(Source: AJNews): Dana Trumbull – At the August 16, 2017 the Pinal County property tax rate were set during the Board of Supervisors’ meeting. The approval encompasses all jurisdictions, resulting in a primary property tax rate set at $3.8699 per $100 of valuation. This rate continues the primary property tax rate levied in 2016-17. “We would have liked to lower it this year,” Assistant County Manager Leo Lew commented, “but with the retirement increases that have occurred and looking into the future, that made it a little more challenging.”
Prior to the vote, Lew presented information about the tax rate and levy historically and in comparison to other counties. “I think you will see that strategy does make a difference,” he said.
In fiscal year 2011-12, county administrators began, “thinking about tax rate philosophy and applying strategic goals,” explained Lew. In prior years, Pinal County, as with most Arizona counties, had applied the maximum property tax rate allowed by law. Prioritizing financial health, in developing the 2011-12 property tax rate, administrators set strategic goals to: 1) maintain a structural balance by investing in the county’s future, while reducing the primary property tax rate; and 2) more specifically, reduce the primary property tax to a rate at or below $3.7500 by FY 2020/2021.
Although the years after 2011 saw significant decreases in property valuations and, as a result, significant decreases in the amount of money generated by the tax levy (dollar amount assessed to property owners), the BOS held fast to the strategic goal of maintaining or reducing the tax rate (the percentage applied to property valuation, which results in the dollar amount to be levied). “Over those years, there were a lot of management challenges and efficiencies gained, and that strategy on the tax rate really affected the whole organization,” said Lew.
In 2016-17, out of 15 counties in Arizona, Pinal County had:
- 3rd highest primary property tax rate in the state at $3.8699
- 4th highest combined property tax rate in the state at $4.1357
- 7th highest primary property tax levy per capita at $210, which is $21 or 12% higher than the state average
- Pinal County has the lowest income per capita in the state: 41% lower than the state average
- Pinal County has improved efficiency significantly since 2010-2011, lowering the adopted primary levy per capita from $272 in FY 2010-11 to $210 in FY 2017-18
Establishing the county property tax rate and the budget for the coming year is one of the primary jobs of the Board of Supervisors. This budget provides the necessary finances to meet estimated expenditures. By state law, once the budget is approved, the county is bound to remain within its budget for that year.