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Property taxes to fall this year

POSTED June 27, 2009 6:00 p.m.
While the precipitous decline in housing values certainly isn’t creating too many happy homeowners in the Central Valley, there is one bright spot amid the doom and gloom — property taxes will be lower this year for almost half of Stanislaus County residents, based on the newly released 2009-2010 Regular Assessment Roll.
Unfortunately for local governments, that bright spot only exacerbates income problems; Stanislaus County taxpayers alone will contribute about $30 million less than last year as a result of reduced assessments.
The 2009-2010 assessment roll, which includes more than 181,000 roll units of real property and business assessments, is the basis upon which property taxes are levied. Assessment value is established when property is purchased and generally remains unchanged except for a 2 percent annual inflation adjustment or when new construction occurs on a property.
“Because of this your assessed value is almost always lower than the current market value by some degree,” said Stanislaus County Assessor Doug Harms. “However, in a declining market it is possible that the current market value of your property could dip below the assessed value of your property. In these cases the Assessor is required to compare your assessed value with the current market value of your property as of Jan. 1 each year.”
The total countywide assessed value has fallen more than $3 billion, or almost 8 percent, from last year. The decline, which Harms attributes to the downturn in the real estate market, is believed to the largest since at least the Great Depression, and is only the second reduction in assessed value since 1992.
“The 2009-20100 assessment roll, while lower than the 2008-2009 assessment roll, will still generate roughly $369 million in revenue to be shared by schools, the county, cities and special districts,” said Harms.
Values on the assessment roll are determined in accordance to provisions in Proposition 13, Proposition 8, or the California Land Conservation Act. Property owners whose value has changed for any reason, save for the annual 2 percent inflation adjustment, will be notified by mail in July.
The newly assessed values will be used to determine Dec. 10 and April 10, 2010, property taxes.
Unfortunately for Turlockers, the city’s residents will see the lowest total reduction in assessment value in the county, with a total drop in value of just 3.53 percent. Newman suffered the largest drop in the county in assessed value, falling almost 18 percent.
While the tax cuts may not be as deep in Turlock as in most of the county, they will be wide-ranging. Just under half of the city’s residents, 47.5 percent of properties, will experience some fall in taxes.
“The cuts in staffing combined with our increasing workload made this a difficult year,” Harms said. “The staff, however, worked diligently to complete their duties and, because of their hard work, many property owners will benefit from an equitable assessed value, which in many cases will lead to reduced property taxes.”
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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