Talking about the tax rates set by the Gila County Board of Supervisors Aug. 18, Dist. 1 Supervisor Ron Christensen points out the average of all county taxes showed a slight drop -- 19 cents.
But Dave Patterson, of the county finance office, is quick to counter, "This was just informational material, and doesn't represent any real numbers."
The document on the county's average rate comparisons between the 2003 and 2002 tax years shows an increase in the assessed value of properties around Gila County leading to the drop in the average overall tax rate. The average rate went from $13.14 in 2002 to $12.95 for 2003.
"There are really only a few things everyone in the county pays for," Patterson said.
These county-wide assessments include: school equalization through the state; the county's general purpose fund; the Gila Pueblo Community College; Gila County Library District; and the fire district assistance tax. These taxes together total $5.81 per $100, though 30 cents of that is charged to the secondary assessed valuations.
The schools and special districts in the various communities make the actual tax rates different everywhere, Patterson said.
For instance, looking at the school districts in the Payson area:
- Payson, $3.87 is the primary tax rate, with 67 cents for the secondary tax rate;
- Pine, $3.15 primary, and 45 cents secondary; and
- Tonto Basin, $5.40 primary, there is no secondary rate.
Property owners in these communities also will have assessments for the different services. Payson residents have the town's assessments and Northern Gila County Sanitary District; in Pine they have a fire district, a street lighting district and the Pine/ Strawberry Water Improvement District; in Tonto Basin they have a fire district.
In Payson, added to the county's $5.81 is 34 cents for the town and 70 cents for the sanitary district, and a total of $4.54 for the school district. Part of the town assessment, 7 cents, and the sanitary district assessment are charged to the secondary assessed value of property, as is part of the school assessment.
Pine and Strawberry residents pay the county-wide $5.81 figure; $3.60 for the school; plus $2.35 for the fire district; 12 cents for the street lighting districts; and 20 cents for the water improvement district. Again, part of the school tax and all the special district taxes are attached to the secondary assessed value of property.
Tonto Basin residents pay $3 per $100 of assessed secondary valuation for their fire district, so they have a total tax bill of $14.21.
"We did better with the budget than we expected to," Christensen said. "But when it comes to taxation, people need to be careful what they vote for. A few years ago in Hayden/ Winkleman they approved a $9 million bond for the school. Then the copper mine shut down and now they're about to default. They're paying something like $40 per $100 of assessed value. In the very near future Hayden/Winkleman will have to dis-incorporate."