Two Out Of Three Tax Dollars Come From Rim Country

Mines boost assessed value in southern county, Payson value rises 6 percent

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The chart above shows what portion assessed valuations in Payson, Pine and Strawberry account for in the county, compared to the rest of the county. The figures are derived from school district boundaries because those numbers are more comprehensive.

Payson’s status as the county’s breadwinner is slipping, county supervisors said Monday before they approved this year’s tax rate.

Supervisor Tommie Martin said that while three out of four tax dollars used to come from Payson, the ratio is now more like two out of three dollars thanks to the revival of Miami’s mines. Payson used to account for roughly 72 percent of the tax base, that number has dropped to about 66 percent.

“This shifts it back to where it was forever and ever,” said Supervisor Shirley Dawson.

“Not yet it doesn’t,” Martin said.

“But it’s still shifting and we need to look at that.”

This year, an owner of a $100,000 home will pay $375, which is $7.54 more than he would have paid last year.

Overall, the county’s assessed valuation increased by 15 percent, to $590 million. That’s up from last tax year’s 13 percent increase.

New construction in Gila County increased by 130 percent for tax year 2009, and county officials attributed most of it to the mines, most outside of town limits. Mines and other industrial entities account for 22 percent of the county’s property value. Owner-occupied and leased residential property each account for 10 percent.

While total property value in southern Gila County towns generally dropped, the numbers changed dramatically when considering school districts. All land, including mines, in the county lies within a school district even if sits outside a town’s limits.

In Miami, with all of its mines, the town’s total property value increased by 2 percent although it grew by 96 percent in the Miami Unified School District, up to $88 million.

In both the town of Payson and the school district, values grew by 7 percent, the most for any town in the county.

Hayden’s valuation dropped 29 percent although it dropped just 5 percent inside school district boundaries.

In Globe, value rose 2 percent in town and 5 percent in the school district.

Star Valley’s total value increased 6 percent, and the Pine Strawberry School District saw 10 percent growth. Star Valley has no school district and Pine is not incorporated.

The numbers reflect information for tax year 2009, the valuation notices for which the county sent in February 2008. Assessors calculated the figures based on data from 2006 and the first half of 2007.

Homes have two types of property values — limited property value and full cash value. The limited value, often the lesser of the two, is not based on market value, but a statutory formula designed to even out market fluctuations.

Entities including the county, school districts and cities levy taxes on the limited value, called a primary tax rate.

Secondary taxes on the full cash value come from districts like fire, sanitary, water and library. Some entities levy both primary and secondary rates, like the town of Payson.

Payson is the only town in Gila County that levies two taxes.

Towns and the county, however, can only increase the total amount they collect by 2 percent, plus the value of new construction. Other taxing entities are not subject to the limit.

This year, for instance, the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District increased its tax levy by 197 percent to raise $300,000 for buying water companies.

Last year, the district collected $90,000 in taxes.

Of 49 taxing districts in the county, only seven must heed the 2 percent rule.

The county and school districts collect the greatest proportion of taxes.

The county will receive 35 percent of the $62.8 million collected this year, and $19.3 million will fund schools, or 30 percent of the total.

The county will also collect $1.9 million in a school equalization tax, which legislators may eliminate. For now, it remains on the tax bills.

“Hopefully before we have the tax bills printed and mailed, the state will have made a decision,” said Deputy County Manager John Nelson.

The bills should be printed in the next week.

Nelson said the county would not be directly impacted should state lawmakers remove the tax. However, lawmakers still need to balance the state budget, and Nelson said they could look to counties as a revenue source.

Arizona’s senate president and speaker of the house wrote in a letter to county officials that they want to remove the tax.

They acknowledged that the decision would come after counties must legally pass their tax rates, but noted that counties have changed rates before.

“We ask for your continued patience,” they wrote.

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