Property Values Decline, Property Taxes Increase

Despite small rise in rates overall, $3 million drop in assessed values could produce lower tax bills

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The value of property in Gila County has decreased almost $3 million in the last year. The tax rate approved by the board of supervisors Aug. 20 averages $12.50 on every $100 of assessed value for the 2012 tax year. It was $12.38 for the 2011 tax year.

Rising rates set by many of the taxing authorities resulted in a roughly 1 percent rise overall. However, people whose properties dropped in value on the assessor’s rolls could actually see their property tax bills go down, according to Deputy County Manager John Nelson.

“Actually, Gila County only taxes on 10 percent of residential assessed value,” Nelson said. So, instead of paying taxes on a home with an assessed value of $100,000, for the county’s purposes, the assessed value is $10,000.

Every taxpayer in the county pays a state-imposed school equalization levy and a county tax as well.

The school equalization tax is 47 cents on each $100 of assessed valuation; county general purpose, $4.19; GCC, 75 cents; the county library district, 20 cents (secondary); fire district assistance tax, 10 cents (secondary). The secondary rate is based on the full cash/market value of a property, according to information on the Arizona Board of Equalization Web site.

The tax bill from the county also includes the rate municipalities collect — Payson is responsible for 35 cents on the tax notices property owners will receive for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

Payson has one of the lowest property tax rates in the county, although neighboring Pine has no property tax levy at all.

Other communities from whom the county collects include Globe ($1.32); Hayden ($4.03); Miami ($3.78); and Winkelman ($5.81).

Payson enjoys a lower property tax rate because most of the town’s money comes from sales taxes — much of it paid by tourists.

The property tax rates for towns are assessed on the primary valuation, which is a limited value established by statute, according to the Arizona Board of Equalization Web site.

Depending on where they live, property owners also pay taxes for the operation of special districts. The special districts include municipalities, schools, fire, water, streetlights and sanitary.

The governing boards of special districts set their own tax rates. In northern Gila County, the special districts and their rates include:

The school districts:

— Payson ($3.31, primary; $1.50, secondary)

— Pine ($4.00, primary)

— Tonto Basin ($5.51)

— vocational education district (5 cents)

The fire districts:

— East Verde Park ($0.22)

— Pine/Strawberry ($3.23)

— Whispering Pines ($3.01)

— Houston Mesa ($2.77)

— Christopher/Kohl’s ($2.67)

— Tonto Basin ($3.21)

— Gisela ($2.87)

— Round Valley/Oxbow Estates ($2.15)

— Beaver Valley ($2.69)

— Hellsgate ($3.25)

Other Special Districts:

— The Northern Gila County Sanitary District, secondary (.60)

— Street Lighting Districts, secondary: Pine (.14); East Verde Park (.15)

— Water Districts, secondary: Pine/Strawberry (.55); Pine Creek Canyon ($2.55); Whispering Pines (.32)

District 1 Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin discussed taxes in a guest column in the Roundup of Friday, Aug. 24.

“Rather than raising property taxes to run the business of the county, over the last three years property taxes levied by the supervisors on behalf of operating Gila County was decreased $3,282,496 (or 14 percent). As a result of all departments doing more with less.

“That is not to say the school districts and other special districts did not, in fact, raise their tax rates and, therefore, property taxes over the same time period — because they did,” Martin wrote.

Martin said the assessed value of home properties dropped in the last three years.

“Overall the property tax burden in Gila County property also dropped from $23,818,540 to $20,536,044. Now, at the same time, the other 36 Gila County taxing authorities raised their portion of the tax bill from $39,277,838 to $40,808,239 for an increase of $1,530,401. With Gila County’s decrease, however, the net result was an overall decrease of $1,752,095 (or 14 percent).”

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