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5:09 AM Mon, Dec. 10th

County property tax rate will decrease while collections increase

PRESCOTT - The Board of Supervisors will set the 2007-08 primary property tax rate Aug. 20.

Despite a reduction in the property tax rate, from $1.67 to $1.53 per $100 of assessed valuation, the county expects to collect $740,326 more in property tax revenue this fiscal year than it collected in fiscal year 2006-07.

State law requires the county to conduct a Truth in Taxation hearing if county officials anticipate an increase in property tax revenues.

During Monday's Truth in Taxation hearing, County Administrator Julie Ayers said the increase in property tax revenues is the result of increased property valuations.

The county's primary property tax on a $100,000 home will increase from $185.29 to $189.18

Ayers said the county assessor's office is responsible for determining property values. The Board of Supervisors sets the tax rate.

The administrator said the county treasurer collects all property taxes. However, she said, "Only 18 percent of the (tax) bill represents the county tax rate. Education represents 61 percent of the average bill."

Ayers said that about 25 percent of property owners never see a tax bill because they have an escrow account in their mortgage.

Ayers said property tax revenues represent 39 percent of the county's $248,979,021 budget.

The remainder of the county budget comes from state shared sales tax, 30 percent; vehicle license tax, 9 percent; county half-cent sales tax, 8 percent; carry over account, 4 percent; transfers, 3 percent; and other sources, 14 percent.

The board adopted the county's fiscal year 2007-08 budget Monday.

The $248,979,021 budget includes: $94,203,153, 39 percent, Special Revenue Funds; $84,984,252, 34 percent, General Fund; $35,991,461, 14 percent, Arizona Long Term Care System Enterprise Fund; $30,341,297, 12 percent, Special Districts; and $3,458,858, one percent, Debt Service.

Ayers said the budget includes $1.6 million in program changes, $1.3 million of which went to courts and law enforcement.

Courts and law enforcement account for almost half of the $84,984,252 General Fund.

General Fund expenditures include: 48 percent, $41,336,740, courts and law enforcement; 18 percent, $15,494,954, general services; 16 percent, $13,199,685, internal service departments; and 18 percent, $14,952,873, all other departments.