The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors set the tax rate for property owners on Monday, touting it as the lowest rate in 29 years.
The board dropped the rate at which it taxes all property in the county to $9.29 per $100 of assessed value, which is about 10 percent of the market value of a typical home.
The reduction means a savings of about $16.14 on a median-priced house valued at $219,500, according to a news release from the clerk of the Board of Supervisors.
The county-set rates make up about 12 percent of a homeowner's property tax bill. The bulk of the bill comes from school district tax rates. Those rates were projected by the districts in the last few weeks, and are now set for 2008 property tax bills.
While some rates are going down, the tax bill homeowners will receive in a few weeks will be based on a home valuation set nearly two years ago. Tax bills are computed through a formula that uses both the tax rates and the assessed value of a property.
Just six months ago, the Maricopa County Assessor's Office sent out valuations for tax year 2009.
The taxes approved Monday are for tax year 2008.
While more than 90 percent of homeowners saw a decrease in their home valuations for tax year 2009, they won't see that reflected on their bills for another year.
"We are aware of the downturn in the real estate market, and we're acting accordingly," said Paul Peterson, public information officer for the Maricopa County Assessor's Office.
When the new tax bills arrive, homeowners may be surprised, because when the tax year 2008 values were set, the market was different.
"It's a confusing tax system that needs to be changed," Peterson said. "Most people don't understand why their taxes don't go down when their assessments go down."
Some school districts have announced decreases in their taxes for tax year 2008, including Chandler Unified.
The Chandler Unified School District projects that its tax rate will drop by 57 cents to $4.59, which is about half of what it was 10 years ago.
"Our tax rates continue to decline as we've paid off previous bonds," district spokesman Terry Locke said.
While some of that is attributed to the state taking over a bulk of construction costs for schools, Locke said the district is also watchful when it plans budgets.
"We're also being careful not to spike the tax rate. You're not seeing too many bonds sold in a given year. We may have the authorization, but we may spread that out over a five-year process."
The Gilbert Unified School District announced a 16-cent hike in its rate.
The increase is necessary because a new high school is being built in the Gilbert district, said spokeswoman Dianne Bowers. The school district is responsible for the cost of surrounding improvements such as roads, sidewalks and lighting.
The Pinal County Board of Supervisors also set tax rates on Monday. In Apache Junction, the proposed tax rate of $4.75 for the school district reflects a decrease of $1.10 from the previous year, the 12th time in a row the school district's tax rate has dropped.
The J.O. Combs School District's rate is also set by the Pinal board. It is dropping $2.41, to $7.49.