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Phoenix: Sinking home values mean lower property tax bills

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Posted: Saturday, September 11, 2010 11:00 am

Phoenix homeowners are expected to receive lower property tax bills this year, but not because of a change in the tax rates.

Rather, it's because of the continued decline in property values, according to city spokeswoman Sina Matthes.

"It's not a healthy reason that property taxes are going down," said Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio, whose district includes Ahwatukee Foothills. "It's going down because we've lost value in our homes."

The current property tax rate of $1.82 per $100 of assessed value has not changed in 14 years, Matthes said. However, because of falling property values, Phoenix officials expect property tax revenue to drop by about 40 percent over the next two years.

That means a loss of $37.7 million in city revenue this fiscal year, 2010-11, and the loss of an estimated $52.5 next fiscal year, 2011-12, Matthes said. Property taxes account for about 13 percent of the city's operating budget, she said.

By way of example, a homeowner with a home valued at $200,000 by the County Assessor's Office in 2009 currently pays about $364 per year, or just over $30 per month in property taxes to the city, according to Matthes. That homeowner likely will see their Phoenix property tax bill reduced by $88 in this fiscal year and $58 in the next.

"As families struggle through an economic decline that has hit the nation, Phoenix is preserving essential services like police and fire and lowering the tax burden on our residents," said Mayor Phil Gordon.

Property taxes are comprised of two separate levies -primary and secondary. The primary portion of the property tax supports the city's General Fund and pays for city services such as police and fire protection, parks and recreation programs, libraries and community centers. The secondary portion of the property tax is used to pay for bonds.

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