Tue, Oct. 22

Taxing Times
Comparative analysis shows Cottonwood’s overall tax burden to be one of lowest in region

Cottonwood City Council members are mulling over a laundry list of possible cuts to staffing, materials and services to help balance the city's deficit budget.

The council eventually seemed to agree, but has not yet voted, to approve a sales tax increase of .8 percent, raising the Cottonwood City tax rate to 3 percent.

The presentation also showed that despite common belief to the contrary, that some tax rates are actually lower in the city than elsewhere. Camp Verde, for example, has the highest property tax burden, by percentage.

Cottonwood Finance Director Jesus "Rudy" Rodriguez's department produced two charts that make the comparison among area cities and towns. One chart makes shows the difference among sales tax formulas and percentages that are used by Yavapai County municipalities.

The second chart shows the various property taxes that residents of local jurisdictions pay. In addition to municipal levies (in the communities of Jerome and Clarkdale), some jurisdictions pay taxes for special districts that operate wastewater systems (such as Camp Verde) or pay primary and secondary taxes for school districts and fire districts. The chart combines primary and secondary rates.

The chart shows the tax rates set by Yavapai County for its General Fund, Fire District Contribution, the Free Library district and Flood Control District. Rodriguez also includes Yavapai College's tax rates as part of the total in the column called County/College.

What the charts do not compare are the property taxes paid by residents who live in unincorporated areas of Yavapai County.

Verde Village and Cornville, for example, which use Verde Valley Fire District, Cottonwood OC and Mingus schools and pay Yavapai County and Yavapai College assessments, have a combined tax rate of 9.87 percent.

Rodriguez used the charts to show that the City of Cottonwood has one of the smallest tax burdens in the area. Manager Doug Bartosh said Cottonwood is operating on a "shoestring."

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