The annual ritual of paying property taxes may force Gila County property owners to break open their piggy banks this year to pay higher tax bills.
John Nelson, deputy manager for Gila County said in spite of the 23-cent average decrease in the county's primary property tax rate this year, most property owners will probably experience an increase in the final amount owed to the county treasurer.
"The average taxpayer in Gila County might see a nominal decrease in their property taxes," Nelson said.
"But the truth is, I think most property owners in the county will likely end up paying a little more [in property taxes] than they did last year."
Nelson said property owners would likely see an increase in their property tax because property values in the county have increased by an average of about 5.5 percent.
This increase comes even though the county's primary tax rate was decreased by about 5 percent.
"That doesn't mean all property in Gila County has increased in value by 5.5 percent, some properties may have increased six or seven percent, and some may have only increased by two or three percent," he said. "5.5 [percent] is just the average increase in the whole county."
Property owners whose property value increased less than 5.5 percent will likely see a decrease in the amount they owe.
Nelson said a property owner's tax bill could increase slightly or more substantially, depending on the assessed valuation of their property.
For example, if a home was valued at $100,000 in 2006 and the tax rate was $4.32 per $100 of assessed value, a property tax bill of $432 would have been received by the taxpayer.
If the property remained assessed at $100,000 in 2007 and a new tax rate of $4.11 (reflecting the 5-percent decrease in the primary tax rate) is used, a property owner's bill would be only $411, a slight decrease.
Nelson said it is more likely that the assessed value of a taxpayer's property will have risen and it is therefore more likely that they will see an increase in their property tax bill, than a decrease.
He said property tax notices for residents of Gila County have been completed and by Saturday, Sept. 29, should be in the hands of property owners.
Debora Savage, Gila County treasurer, said taxes for Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2007 will be due by the first of October.
Arizona statute prescribes that at least half of property owners' taxes (if over $100) are due on Oct. 1, and if they remain unpaid by 5 p.m. Nov. 1, they become delinquent.
After Nov. 1, interest will accrue on the first half, at an annual rate of 16 percent.
If the full amount of tax is paid by Dec. 31, no penalty interest for the first half payment will be accrued.
The second half is due by March 1, 2008, and if unpaid by 5 p.m. Thursday May 1, will become delinquent.
Savage said this is the only annual tax notice sent out. She reminded property owners in Gila County to mark their calendars so they won't become delinquent.
If property owners don't receive a tax notice by Oct. 15, Savage said they should contact the treasurer's office for a copy to avoid becoming delinquent.
She said property owners are responsible for paying their taxes, regardless of whether or not they receive a notice.
"We do now have our Web site set up to allow Gila County residents to view their tax notices online," Savage said.
She said the Web site is not yet equipped to allow property owners to pay their bill online, so Gila County property owners still have to send their payments through the mail or deliver them to the treasurer's office at 1400 E. Ash St. in Globe.
To view your property tax bill for Gila County, go to, http://www.co.gila.az.us/parcelsearch/parcelsearch.aspx. Residents can search either by name or parcel number.