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Sun, Feb. 23

County sets property tax rate<br><i>Levy of $1.68 first increase in 16 years</i>

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CHAIR CHIP Davis said this has been a trying year for the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors.

The new rate of $1.68 per $100 of assessed valuation is a 7-cent increase over last year's levy. It was the first increase in the county levy in 16 years.

The increase will raise county property taxes on a home with an assessed valuation of $100,000 by approximately $7 per year. That increase, however, is well below the 22-cent increase originally considered by the supervisors.

The supervisors earlier set a tentative budget, which included a levy increase to $1.83, the maximum allowed by the supervisors' self-imposed tax-rate ceiling. The self-imposed ceiling is 30-cents per $100 of valuation below the state's mandatory ceiling of $2.13.

The board was able to delay raising the county levy through a stopgap plan. The plan will allow county voters to decide if they want to pay for additional jail staffing through increased sales tax.

The plan will transfer nearly $2.3 million into the jail district instead of the county's capital improvement fund. That money will provide 73 new employees for the jail expansion, allowing Yavapai County Sheriff Buck Buchanan to open part of the new facility.

"It's been our most challenging year," said Board Chairman Chip Davis. "We'll go to the voters in the spring to ask the question about the sales tax."

Davis said some voters hold the misconception that the sales tax increase of .25 percent is an option. He said if the county sales tax isn't increased from a quarter-cent to a half-cent, "There most definitely will be an increase in the property tax next year."

The board also approved a slight increase of 1 percent in the secondary property tax levy for the Yavapai County Free Library District.

The same motion that set the levy rates for primary and secondary county property taxes also provided for the collection of taxes by the county treasurer. The treasurer collects taxes for cities and towns, school districts, Yavapai College, fire districts and special districts.

The City of Prescott lowered its primary levy by 4 percent and also reduced its secondary levy by 14 percent. Clarkdale lowered its primary rate 2 percent, and Jerome lowered its primary rate by 7 percent.

Yavapai College lowered its primary rate to pay for operations and capital expenses by 1 percent. The college lowered its secondary levy for bond debt service by 21 percent.

Most of the school districts in Eastern Yavapai County lowered tax levy rates. The Clarkdale-Jerome School District lowered its primary rate by 7 percent. Mingus Union High School District lowered its primary rate by 8 percent and its secondary rates by 5 percent.

Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District had the largest drop in its property tax levy of any district in the county. The district's primary rate went down 78 percent. The district's override secondary rate dropped 6 percent, and its bond debt service secondary rate increased 5 percent.

Sedona-Oak Creek School District lowered its primary rate by 2 percent. The Sedona district had an increase in its total secondary rates of 2 percent.

Camp Verde School District's primary rate came down 4 percent. Beaver Creek School District had an increase of 7 percent in its primary rate and a decrease of 6 percent in its secondary tax levy.

Camp Verde Fire District had a decrease of 3 percent in its secondary tax rate. Sedona and Verde Valley fire districts' tax rates remained the same as they were during the last fiscal year.

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