BY LINDA BENTLEY | AUGUST 22, 2012
County supervisors vote 4-1 against raising property tax rate
Supervisor Wilcox pooh-poohed the board’s decision and said it would not benefit taxpayers much with a savings of only $20 per year
Maricopa County supervisors (from left)
Andy Kunasek, Chairman Max Wilson, Mary Rose Wilcox, Don Stapley and Fulton Brock
PHOENIX – On Monday, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 not to raise the primary tax rate of $1.24 per $100 of assessed valuation with Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox dissenting.
This will net the county $52.5 million less in tax revenues since property values have declined dramatically over the last few years.
They also agreed to keep rates of county-controlled special districts for library and flood control at the current rates of $.178 and $.0492, respectively, per $100 of assessed value.
The supervisors based their decision to keep rates the same after hearing from economic consultant Jim Rounds of Elliott D. Pollack & Company, who advised them to continue “conservative budgeting.”
Rounds also said they could “expect improvement,” but to “be patient.”
He said, “There is a lot of uncertainty globally and in the nation. Continue to plan conservatively and you’ll be better off than most.”
Chairman Max Wilson said the board has again made the commitment not to burden taxpayers “as we try to pull out of the worst recession in decades,” adding, “I have never lost sight that this is the taxpayers’ money.”
Maricopa County controls approximately 12 percent of the total property tax bill, while cities, special districts, schools and community colleges make up the rest.
With a belief that lowering taxes will help speed up the Valley’s overall economic recovery, Supervisor Andy Kunasek said, the taxpayers need a break.”
Supervisor Don Stapley said the county had achieved the impossible while taking an enormous fiscal hit. He pointed out the general fund operating budget is $170 million lower than it was five years ago.
He said, “We have kept taxes low. And we have delivered our necessary public services at an incredibly high level.”
Wilcox pooh-poohed the board’s decision and said it would not benefit taxpayers much with a savings of only $20 per year for the median priced home, likening it to “a cup of coffee each month.”
However, she said it would hurt county revenues and services, especially in upcoming years.
Wilcox stated, “The county is going through some tough times and we need to provide good services. I fear a future board will have to raise taxes just to pay for mandated services.”
Supervisor Fulton Brock disagreed with Wilcox’s assessment and said, “This is consistent with the board’s strategy of lowering taxes whenever possible.”
Kunasek added, “Every year is a different year. This is a responsible way to go.”
Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson called the budget “conservative” and, recognizing the economic uncertainties, said, “We will have to be very cautious and be very tight on expenditures and capital (construction) over the next two or three-year budget cycles.”