Sunday, May 1, 2011

Phoenix residents might pay less property tax

Many Phoenix residents probably will pay less in city property taxes as a result of dropping home values.

The city has again proposed keeping the property tax rate at $1.82 per $100 of assessed value, but residents will pay less because property valuations in Maricopa County have fallen four years in a row.

The average Phoenix resident will owe about $234 in city property taxes for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which begins July 1. That's down 26 percent from the $316 estimated for the current year, according to the city's Finance Department.

The city expects to collect $61 million less in property taxes for fiscal 2011-12 compared with the current fiscal year as a result of the drop but will make up the difference using reserves.

Phoenix's property-tax rate has stayed at $1.82 since 1996. It is unclear whether the city can sustain that rate if property values continue to decline, Finance Director Jeff Dewitt said.

City property taxes are divided into two levies: the primary property tax pays for day-to-day operations and maintenance, while the secondary property tax is dedicated to paying off voter-approved bond debt used for capital projects and infrastructure.

If the city doesn't collect enough to pay off debt, the City Council will have to consider raising the secondary property-tax rate, shifting collections from the primary property tax to the secondary or dipping into the general-fund budget. City officials are expected to discuss property-tax plans for the 2012-13 fiscal year this fall.

Even though some Phoenix residents and business owners may be paying less in property taxes, they may see their overall property-tax bill from the county go up, depending on whether taxes were increased for nearby schools, community colleges and other entities that also levy a tax.

The property-tax levy was a controversial issue for the Phoenix City Council last May. The public decried tax increases amid the recession and just months after elected officials voted to implement a 2 percent city tax on food to generate about $50 million annually.

The Phoenix City Council will consider adopting the $1.82 fixed property-tax rate as part of the city's 2011-12 budget process on July 6.

by Lynh Bui The Arizona Republic Apr. 28, 2011 12:00 AM

Phoenix residents might pay less property tax

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