August 16, 2010
For immediate release
The steep decline in property values during Arizona’s current housing recession will have one benefit for Maricopa County homeowners: The county-controlled portion of their property tax bills will be lower for most homeowners this year.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors today set property tax levies that will result in tax bill reductions for most homeowners, at least for the county-controlled portion of the total tax. The Board reduced property taxes on existing properties by $23.8 million, or 3.9 percent. The typical residence in Maricopa County, with a median market value of $148,800, down from $192,000 last year, will see a reduction of about $25.
“I think the county has shown itself as a good steward of taxpayers’ money,” said Board Chairman Don Stapley. “It has been a rough year but we balanced the budget. Other jurisdictions in the state have not done the job as well as Maricopa County.”
Board member Max Wilson agreed. “I never lose sight that this is not our money. It’s the taxpayers’. Our action today will help in some way to reduce the burden on homeowners in Maricopa County,” he said.
County-controlled property taxes, which make up about 15 percent of total property taxes in Maricopa County, include the County primary levy, the Flood Control and Library District secondary tax levies. Maricopa County uses “pay-as-you-go” financing for capital projects, and unlike most other jurisdictions, does not use a secondary property tax for bonds. Property taxes collected by the state, cities, school districts, the community college district and other districts comprise the other 85 percent of property taxes.
“It is a delicate balance between funding important government services at adequate levels and keeping taxes low,” commented Supervisor Fulton Brock, of Chandler. “But that is the mission we ask of our staff and the departments. We’re staying the course. We are headed in the right direction.”
The Board’s policy of low, sustainable property taxes with no general obligation debt will save county taxpayers $128.5 million this year alone. Taxpayers have avoided an estimated $494 million in taxes since fiscal year 2002, according to the county Office of Management and Budget.
“Years ago, when we set off on a pay-as-you go policy, many we believe we couldn’t get it done. But we did it,” said Supervisor Andy Kunasek, of Phoenix. “Other counties across the country, even well managed ones, have struggled without facing any of the difficulties that we have faced.”
Today’s action followed the adoption in June of a “steady-as-you-go” $2.26 billion county budget for fiscal year 2011, which began July 1. The conservative budget anticipates little revenue growth in the next fiscal year and offers no cost of living adjustments or merit pay increases for county employees. Phoenix Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox said that even with the pay-as-you-go plan on capital construction, “The county has been able to keep up with infrastructure needs, with the construction of the criminal court tower, the Flood Control District projects and county roads. “
Deputy Budget Director Chris Bradley, 602-506-4960
Lesley Kratz, Senior Advisor to County Assessor Keith Russell: 602-506-7154