The Pima County Board of Supervisors approved a revenue neutral property tax rate Monday that supports a $1.2 billion budget that maintains service levels.
The approval, which came on a 3-2 vote, sets a primary property tax rate of $3.66 per $100 of assessed value. Although that is higher than the existing rate of $3.41, the average taxpayer would pay essentially the same amount as last year since an 8 percent drop in property valuations countywide will offset the higher rate.
In order to maintain a stable tax base, tax rates tend to fluctuate with economic conditions. Ten years ago, in Fiscal Year 2003-04, the tax rate was $4.07, but steadily dropped as the real estate bubble inflated property values.
There are 94 separate taxing jurisdictions within Pima County. Only four are controlled by Pima County and those rates have shown similar trends. Debt service, for example, remains at 78 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is lower than it was a decade ago, when it was 81 cents. Flood Control has dropped from 35 cents per $100 assessed value to 26 cents in that time frame. The exception is the Library District. Ten years ago, when the City of Tucson and the County shared costs for the library system, that rate was 21 cents. Since the County assumed full responsibility for the library system in 2006, the rate has increased to 37 cents.
While Pima County’s primary tax rate increased by 7.3 percent over the rate from last fiscal year, the City of Tucson’s and the City of South Tucson’s primary tax rates increased by 27.2 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively.
Even with the increased rate, Pima County will collect slightly less in property taxes overall than it did last fiscal year. The entire amount of property taxes collected in last fiscal year was $386.8 million. The levy amount under the new rate is anticipated to be $383.1 million.