Property Tax

Arizona tax group hits county for property tax increase that’s unlikely to happen in Mohave County

(Source: HavasuNews): Brandon Messick

A previous proposal would have put Mohave County at the lead for property tax hikes next year, according to a report by the Arizona Tax Research Association, but such an increase isn’t likely according to local officials.

Most Arizona counties are recommending property tax increases this year, as county supervisors throughout the state begin adopting FY 2018 budgets. Mohave County has struggled to reach a consensus on a property tax plan. One plan that was previously proposed would have raised property taxes by as much as $11 million, or about $0.52 per $100 of assessed value. On a $300,000 house, that would equal an annual increase of about $156. Other plans floated to board members have called for increases ranging from $0.26 to $0.10.

With County Supervisor Steve Moss’ recent resignation, it’s unlikely that a property tax increase will find support on the board when they vote on a budget next month.

The county has for years been reluctant to raise property taxes, even as property values throughout Mohave County have increased, according to officials. According to Mohave County Assessor Jeanne Kentch, average Mohave County property values have been climbing for the past two years, and another 3-5 percent increase to those values is expected by 2018.

“In some of Mohave County’s less desirable areas, property values are decreasing,” Kentch said. “But countywide, we expect values to increase by about 3 percent. Experts say they’re expecting the upward trend to continue over the next five years, which is a good thing. It means the economy is getting better.”

Mohave County supervisors first considered the 52-cent increase to the county’s primary tax rates, but because of statutes under Arizona’s Truth in Taxation laws, such an increase would require a unanimous vote from the Mohave County Board of Supervisors. According to Supervisor Buster Johnson, such a unanimous decision will not happen.

 “Every year, we’re allowed to make a 2 percent increase in property taxes,” Johnson said. “Mohave County hasn’t had an increase in years. If we had, it would be 52 cents higher. Now the county can only raise property taxes as high as 15 percent without a unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors. I’m not in favor of that.”

Johnson says the county would be better off sticking to fiscal conservatism instead of raising taxes.

“Obviously, we need to stop spending outside of our budget, and we need to stop accumulating debt,” he said.

Despite higher proposed property taxes on the level of Mohave County, Lake Havasu City has proposed a reduction in its property tax levy rate to coincide with rising property values. The city for the past decade has adjusted its levy rate to maintain a steady collection plus new construction.