Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Oro Valley: Pima County's Cash Cow

You just received your property tax bill. You're amazed. The value of your property, according to the assessment, is up 2%, 5%, 8% or maybe 10% plus. You're reading the month Long Realty Oro Valley housing report. You see that the median price of houses sold has increased only 2% in the past year.

What gives, you ask?

Welcome to "Bizarro World." In Bizarro World, Pima County assessment values and the changes in these values have no discernable relationship to the real world.

The only piece of good news you can fall back on is that, thanks to a voter referendum you approved last summer, property taxes for residential and rentals are based on limited value, starting in 2015. Limited value is restricted to 5 percent increase per year.

"Hallelulah?" you say. Until you realize that a 5% in just in just 5 short years, is actually a 27% increase over today's value.

Feeling a bit stressed?

The county is not done with you yet.

It is likely that this coming August, when the county sets the 2016 property tax rate, they will jack it up double digits. After all, County Supervisor Huckleberry is whining about how the State (you pay for this too) is not giving the county as much money as the county wants.  Stay tuned as the county begins its 2015-16 budget hearings next week.

There's precedent for big increases in the tax rate. Last August the Pima County Board of Supervisors set the county’s combined tax rate for 2015 at $5.76 per $100 of the assessed valuation, an increase of about 12 percent from the prior year. The tax rate increase for the primary rate was 16.17%, Oro Valley's supervisor representative Ally Miller voted against the tax rate increases.

In summary: The county raises the limited value of your property, but not more than 5% by law. Then the county jacks up the primary tax rate by double digits: say 16.17 %, like last year. The result? Your property taxes go up 22%.

The only limit on the amount of the primary tax rate is the vote of your county supervisor.

The county's "tax and spend" philosophy hits Oro Valley property owners hard in Oro Valley because Oro Valley property values are higher per square foot than those in the rest of the county.  As we pointed out in a February posting: "Oro Valley's population is 4% of the county's population but its property values are almost 9% of the county's assessed property values."

Aren't we the lucky ones.

You have until April 28th to submit a petition if think that you value is off. The Assessor's office phone number is (520) 724-8630. The website to visit is here.

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