Property owners living in the Kyrene School District boundaries could see next year's primary property tax rate jump by 43 percent, and Tempe Union High School District residents could face a 7 percent increase if the districts' proposed tax levies goes through. Kyrene's proposed rate increase would cause homeowners' tax rates in Kyrene to jump from $6.73 per $100,000 home to $11.91 per $100,000 home. The collections will go toward a $1.07 million fire lane improvement project in the district. Tempe Union's rate increase would cause homeowners' tax rates to jump from about $5.63 per $100,000 home to about $6.04 per $100,000 home. As of June 2006, according to researchers at Arizona State University, the median home price in Ahwatukee Foothills is $370,950. The increase would cause a homeowner with such a house to pay $44.18 in property taxes to Kyrene and $22.40 to Tempe Union next year. The fire lane improvements paid for by the Kyrene tax increase will occur at eight district elementary schools. Three of the schools - Kyrene de la Colina Elementary, Kyrene de la Esperanza Elementary and Kyrene de los Lagos Elementary - are in Ahwatukee Foothills. Those schools' projects will cost $177,500, $100,000 and $215,000 respectively. "The reason we need an increased tax capacity... is because we're doing a major construction project with our portable buildings," said Karin Smith, director of business services with the district. "As a result of that, some of our fire lanes are being adjusted." The construction project is financed through a bond election authorized by voters in 2005. Taxpayers interested in Kyrene's proposed rate increase can attend a public hearing on the topic at 7 p.m. July 10 at the district's office, 8700 S. Kyrene Road in Tempe. Taxpayers interested in Tempe Union's proposed rate increase can attend a public hearing on the topic at 7 p.m. July 11 at the district's office, 500 W. Guadalupe Road in Tempe. Maricopa County Treasurer David Schweikert said now is the time for taxpayers to be paying attention. "My phone will light up in about two months with people mad about increased tax rates," Schweikert said. "But once it's adopted, it's done, and whether it affects your tax bill is just a matter of math." He added that, while Kyrene's tax increase alone might not break anyone's bank, it could be one small part of an overall area tax increase that adds up to significant costs. "Some people have as many as 15 taxable districts, and if all of them go up we're talking about real money," Schweikert said. Other taxable districts in Ahwatukee Foothills include the Tempe Union High School District, the Maricopa County Community College District, the city of Phoenix and others. Such districts are allowed, either by state statute or by special votes, to adjust tax rates. And while Schweikert warns taxpayers to pay attention to what their taxable districts are doing, he added that since property taxes are collected by locally elected officials it makes them less offensive. "The nice thing about property taxes is that everything on a property tax bill, you and I voted for in some capacity." Jason Ludwig can be reached at (480) 898-7916 or jludwig@aztrib.com.

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