Sunday, September 18, 2011

Some see spike in property-tax bills

Many Maricopa County residents recently were pleased to see a small drop in their property taxes since their home values have plummeted during the past five years.

But not all homeowners were happy.

An Arizona Republic story that ran Aug. 30 reported metro Phoenix homeowners could expect to see their tax bills fall an average of $60 from last year.

Homeowners were asked to respond if they saw their tax bills drop more than expected or climb significantly. Most homeowners we have heard from have seen their property-tax bills shoot up and don't understand why.

Arizona has one of the most convoluted property-tax systems, and shortfalls because of the housing crash and drops in school funding are translating to higher tax bills for many.

Here are some sample comments:

- "My father-in-law just received his county tax bill yesterday, and it went up 31.4 percent. Something just doesn't compute here. It would be nice to know what genius has let this happen here in the county. A large part of the county's residences are on fixed income, and to have the county government this out of control is reprehensible." - Richard Nagel

- "I own property in the Villas Las Palmas townhouse community, Tempe. I understand that the various taxing authorities adjust their tax rates to meet their budgets when property values fall, so I did not naively expect a dramatic decline. I was surprised, however, to see an increase of more than 28 percent in my tax bill this year. Thinking my own tax bill may have been incorrect, I went to the county assessor's website and retrieved information on assessed values and property taxes for other homes in Villas Las Palmas.

"I see that the 28 percent increase was typical for our community. I have looked at tax data for similar townhouses in Tempe, and the others I have checked don't have anything near a 28 percent tax increase." - David Pheanis

- "Our taxes went from $1,322 to $1,754. We live in Mesa." - Robert Mitchell

- "Our total tax bill went up about $50. I was surprised because I had read your article back in August about the rates in Maricopa County decreasing. This is in response to property values decreasing?" - Noelle Stovell

- "Something is very wrong. This is a shocker. My taxes increased to $2,127.78 from $1,582.52. I called the county and talked with six different people, who blamed Phoenix Elementary School tax increases. Of my total tax bill, 73 percent is going to schools and education. So regardless what the county does, the education/school increases wiped out those cuts plus a lot more. I am on Social Security, and it will be a big hardship to pay this." - Frank Kostyun

- "In 2010, our taxes were $1,956.10. Our taxes for 2011 are $2,338.62. This amounts to an increase of $382.52, or almost 20 percent. After speaking to a representative at the County Treasurer Office, we were told this increase was caused by increased funds for the Rio Verde Fire District and increased funds for Maricopa County Community Colleges. After speaking with other residents in our area, their taxes did not increase, which makes no sense to us." - Richard and Janet Dickson

by Catherine Reagor The Arizona Republic Sept. 14, 2011 12:00 AM

Some see spike in property-tax bills

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