Higher property tax bills expected for Scottsdale - East Valley Tribune: Phoenix & The Valley Of The Sun

Higher property tax bills expected for Scottsdale

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Posted: Tuesday, June 27, 2006 10:27 am | Updated: 2:26 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The sweet deal Scottsdale homeowners are getting this coming year on the city’s lowest property tax rate in decades won’t mean much come 2008.

The full cash value of a single-family residence in Scottsdale is projected to skyrocket by nearly 63 percent between this year and 2007, according to the latest estimates from the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office.

Some homeowners and property activists said this will mean higher-than-average property tax bills are coming.

Scottsdale ranks in the top five among 14 cities in the Valley that are expected to see double-digit percentage increases in their home values, the assessor’s figures show.

“It’s outrageous,” said Scottsdale resident Barbara Fremineur. She and husband Jean have seen their home value grow exponentially in recent years.

The couple paid $325,000 for their Scottsdale Ranch house in 1987.

The assessor’s office last year valued their house at $375,000, but now that figure has nearly doubled to $600,500 for 2007, according to county figures.

Increased housing sales are the reason the assessed values are rising, said David Bailey, finance administrator for the assessor’s office.

“The assessed value reflects the market value,” Bailey said, adding he doesn’t think the higher valuations will necessarily mean homeowners will be paying more in 2007 and 2008.

“We can’t predict what the tax rates will be . . . (plus) there’s a zillion different taxing agencies” and so each community’s rates differ, Bailey said.

Jean Fremineur said he paid $2,100 in property tax in 1993 and paid $2,941 this year.

Even though state law limits the annual assessed value increase to 10 percent, Jean Fremineur said he’s concerned the escalating valuations are going to mean even higher property taxes in 2007 and 2008.

The Scottsdale City Council last week approved the lowest property tax rate since the 1970s — 97 cents for every $100 assessed value.

But that doesn’t mean anything when it comes to what property owners will pay, said Scottsdale resident Bob Bishop.

“My tax bill has never gone down,” Bishop said, adding that he objects to some City Council members ballyhooing the lower rate as a reduction.

Bishop said the assessed values are what matter.

Bishop’s Scottsdale house, which is near the Fremineurs’, cost $300,000 when he bought it in 1999 but now it’s valued at just over $1 million.

“I think the real estate market is nuts,” Bishop said, adding that he doubts his house is really worth that much.

Outrage and concern over the sharp increases in property values have prompted two grass-roots groups in Arizona to launch petition drives in an effort to get proposals before voters that would roll back assessments and place more stringent caps.

“Just wait until the tax bill comes in October,” said Phoenix activist Jeff Greenspan.

Greenspan is chairman of Stop Taxing Our Property, a grass-roots group that is trying to get on the ballot a measure that would revert property valuations to 2001 for those who purchased their houses before that year.

The measure would also set 2001 values as the benchmark for those who purchased their houses after that year.

“What the politicians do is raise the values and tell you they aren’t raising taxes,” Greenspan said.

Bullhead City activist and accountant Mary Bonaventura said she’s hearing more concern than outrage over the valuations, mostly from retired residents on fixed incomes.

“They’re concerned they’re not going to be able to afford to live (in their houses) anymore,” Bonaventura said.

Bonaventura is treasurer for Arizona Tax Revolt, a group that wants to put on the ballot a measure that would roll back property values to 2003 and limit reassessments until the homeowner sells.

This year the county is starting annual assessments. In the past, assessments were conducted every two years.

Bailey said conducting assessments on a yearly basis will allow the assessor’s office to better track the market.

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