Property owners seeing red over tax bills
Despite the cooler weather, tempers are on the rise as area property owners begin receiving their tax bills.
“I've had calls from business owners, individual homeowners, large landowners, all asking about the tax increases,” said Yuma County Treasurer David Egeberg. “Nobody ever wants to see tax increases, but now is an especially awful time. I feel bad because there are no simple or good answers for tax increases in a recession, but our hands are tied. We have to follow state statutes.”
This year, the treasurer's office is mailing 96,969 tax statements for a total tax bill of $141,231,615, a 10.82 percent increase in total dollars from last year.
Even though there is a 10 percent increase in dollars billed, that does not translate into a uniform 10 percent tax increase for every taxpayer, which has been creating confusion among property owners who are seeing increases ranging from a few percentage points to around 32 percent. Some taxpayers may have seen a decrease in their bills.
“The 10 percent increase is only the overall dollar amount billed by the county. A person's individual tax bill depends on a number of factors,” Egeberg said.
Egeberg said when the state was founded, the Legislature created not only counties and cities but additional subdivisions within each municipality such as school districts and library boards and invested them with the authority to set their own tax rates.
Currently, Yuma County has 305 taxing entities and special districts that can, depending on where you live, raise your tax burden.
“What happens is the county assessor gives each entity the total values of all the property in its jurisdiction,” Egeberg said. “So those entities figure out how much they need in dollars based on the (property) valuations and then they (determine) the rate they need to get those dollars.”
Arizona has historically seen property values rise year after year. But recently they have been declining and, along with state budget cuts, have forced the various taxing entities to increase their rates, causing the taxpaying public to direct its enmity toward the treasurer's office and the county.
But Egeberg said the county is not responsible for all of the tax increases.
“Because the county sends out the tax notices, many people believe we set the rate. But the treasurer does not set the tax rates and the (county) board of supervisors has no say in how the other entities set their rates. If they are upset about a particular tax, they have to address that particular entity.”
Egeberg said once a tax bill is received, it is basically too late to fight for changes. And if you are looking to influence rate changes, it needs to be addressed before September.
“You can attend school board meetings when they discuss rate changes or any other entity's meeting and let your opinion be known. I have empathy for those 97,000 people I sent those statements to ... (But) the time to make these changes happens earlier in the year.”
Darren DaRonco can be reached at 539-6857 or email@example.com.
Yuma County's Seven Largest Taxing Entities
Entitiy Amount Billed in 2010 Amount Billed in 2011 Percent Increase
YUHSD $24,283,235 $32,493,372 33.81%
Yuma Elem District $11,781,973 $15,642,197 32.76%
Crane Elem District $4,137,367 $4,786,706 15.69%
Yuma County $26,898,082 $28,633,564 6.45%
AWC $23,617,845 $24,391,526 3.28%
City of Yuma $9,779,466 $9,980,667 2.06%
Yuma County Library $10,413,689 $10,499,241 .82%
Subtotal for 7 $110,911,660 $126,427,277 13.99%
Total for all 305 $127,443,996 $141,231,675 10.82%
Information provided by Yuma County Treasurer's Office