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Residents object to property tax hike

‘Mohave County has a spending problem, not a revenue problem’

By JIM SECKLER/The Daily News
KINGMAN — More than a 100 people voiced their strong opposition Monday to the proposed raising of Mohave County’s primary and secondary property tax levies and rates for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The Mohave County supervisors held a public meeting on the county’s proposal to raise property tax rates from $1.46 per $100 assessed value to $1.81 per $100 assessed value on a home.

Finance Director John Timko told the large crowd of the 18 percent drop in assessed property values in the county since last year. A $100,000 home valued a year ago is now valued at about $82,000. The taxes on that home last year were $146.37. If approved, the higher tax rate on the same home with a lower assessed value would amount to $149.30 or about a $2.90 increase — or as Timko said, the cost of gas for some to attend Monday’s meeting.

Timko also explained that the state of Arizona is now shifting almost $3.7 million in financial responsibility to Mohave County for the upcoming fiscal year to help balance the state’s budget. Timko’s explanations did not convince the nearly 110 audience members of the need for the property tax rate increase.

Many speakers who are on fixed income or on Social Security said they could not afford the higher costs, when they have cut back in their own personal finances. One speaker said the higher taxes will cause more foreclosures of homes. Others criticized the county’s construction of the new county jail and Development Services Building and the proposed Public Works Building. Another speaker called the $73 million administration building a “palace.’

Susan Bayer of Golden Valley, along with others, took aim at County Manager Ron Walker’s salary, the salaries of the four deputy county managers and the need for a public information officer. One speaker said the board should cut the county’s budget comparably as much as Congress is proposing to cut off the federal debt.

One woman said people do not come to the county because of the new jail and the other new buildings but for good schools, parks, public transportation and jobs. Mike Roundy of Kingman, among others, spoke of their property values that spiked from 2005 to 2009 before dropping again the last two years. Over all, property values increased 23 percent since 2005.

“Mohave County has a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” one speaker said.

The board is expected to vote on adopting the tax levies and rates and the county’s final budget at the Aug. 1 board meeting. The tax levies and rates are for county taxing authorities such as the television and library districts, the county flood control district and the fire district assistance tax.

Timko previously said the cause of the primary property tax increase is the devaluation of county properties. Primary property taxes are projected to increase $689,866 or the 2 percent as allowed by state law, which was approved by Arizona voters several years ago.

The rate was $1.75 per $100 assessed value for the 2005-06 fiscal year and about a dozen years before that. For the 2006-07 fiscal year, the rate was set at $1.67 per $100 assessed value. For the 2007-08 fiscal year, the rate was $1.53 per $100 assessed value. For the 2008-09 fiscal year, the property tax rate was set at $1.33 per $100 assessed value and for the 2009-10 fiscal year, the primary property rate was $1.26 per $100 assessed value.