For Immediate Release
Supervisors cut county property taxes by $52.5 million
After getting a cautious report on a Valley economy “a little weaker than we hoped for,” the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to keep the property tax rate the same. The action will result in a $52.5 million drop in property taxes countywide. The vote was four-to-one with Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox dissenting.
This action impacts the portion of the tax rate controlled by the supervisors.
The primary tax rate of $1.24 per $100 of assessed valuation is the same as last year and will generate $52.5 million less in tax revenues. The county’s property values have declined steeply in recent years, resulting in lower assessed valuations and lower taxes for most residents.
"We have again made the commitment at the county that we won’t put any extra burdens on our taxpayers as we try to pull out of the worst recession in decades," commented Board Chairman Max Wilson, of Litchfield Park. "I have never lost sight that this is the taxpayers' money."
According to county officials, owners of a median valued home in Maricopa County (assessed at $111,000) should see a decrease of $16.75 in their primary tax bill. Supervisors also voted to keep the rates of county-controlled special districts for library and flood control at the current rates of $.178 and $.0492 per $100 of assessed value. The county supervisors control about 12 percent of the total property tax bill. Other jurisdictions, including the cities, special districts, schools and community colleges, make up the rest.
When added to the primary levy reductions, the homeowner of a median home should see a combined decrease of $19.82, from $182.76 to $162.94.
"I believe lowering taxes will speed up the Valley’s overall economic recovery," commented Supervisor Andy Kunasek, of Paradise Valley. "The taxpayers need a break."
"Maricopa County has done the impossible. Over the past six years, we have taken an enormous fiscal hit. Our general fund operating budget is $170 million lower than it was five years ago," said Supervisor Don Stapley, of Mesa. "We have kept taxes low. And we have delivered our necessary public services at an incredibly high level."
Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox voted against the proposal, which she said would not benefit taxpayers much, $20 a year -- "a cup of coffee each month" but would hurt county revenues and service, especially in upcoming years. "The county is going through some tough times and we need to provide good services. I fear a future board will have to raise taxes just to pay for mandated services."
Supervisor Fulton Brock, of Chandler, disagreed. "This is consistent with the board's strategy of lowering taxes whenever possible," he said. "This action results in a $52.5 million drop in property taxes to the average homeowner in Maricopa County."
Kunasek added: "Every year is a different year. This is a responsible way to go."
The supervisors set the property tax rate after hearing a mixed economic forecast from Jim Rounds, of Elliott D. Pollack & Company, an economic consultant, who recommended patience and continued "conservative budgeting."
"Expect improvement, but be patient," Rounds said. "There is a lot of uncertainty globally and in the nation. Continue to plan conservatively and you’ll be better off than most."
Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson described the budget "as a conservative budget.
Given the economic uncertainty, "We will have to be very cautious and be very tight on expenditures and capital (construction) over the next two or three year budget cycles," Sandi Wilson said.
N.B. – Definition of Terms
Tax Levy: The total amount that will be billed in property taxes.
Assessed Value: An amount determined by the Assessor’s office and is used in the calculation of the tax bill of a property owner.
Tax Rate: A rate is developed by dividing the total tax levy by the total assessed value in order to determine each property tax payer’s share of the levy.
Economic Update by Jim Rounds
Property Tax Levy Presentation