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County assessors weigh in on property tax bills

PRESCOTT - County assessors across Arizona are seeking a change in state law this year that seeks to simplify property tax bills, while opposing a couple of other bills that would give certain property owners breaks on their property values.

Rep. Darin Mitchell is sponsoring House Bill 2253 for the Arizona Association of Assessing Officers. Yavapai County Assessor Pamela Pearsall is president of the assessors' group.

HB 2253 would change the property tax cycle from 20 months to one year. It won unanimous approval from the House Ways and Means Committee Monday, Feb. 2, Pearsall said.

"This will simplify the process and make it easier to understand," Pearsall said. All 15 county assessors in Arizona support it, she added.

Under the current system, the Yavapai County Assessor's Office will send out 2016 notices of value in about January 2015, Pearsall said. Government officials then use those values to calculate tax bills on 2016 taxes due in October 2016.

If the assessors are successful in changing the law, the change would take effect in 2017. They would send out 2017 notices of value in about January 2017, and officials would use those values to calculate tax bills on 2017 taxes due in October 2017.

Greenhouses

Assessors are opposing Senate Bill 1204 sponsored by Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott.

SB 1204 would classify large greenhouses as personal property instead of the current real property, thus speeding up their depreciation for property tax purposes, Pearsall explained. Real property generally is not movable.

Pierce said a greenhouse growers association requested the change because some large greenhouses now are movable like mobile homes.

He noted the change would apply only to vegetable growers, not others such as marijuana growers.

The change would apply only to greenhouses that are at least 100,000 square feet in size.

Assessors oppose the change because it would shift more of the property tax burden to other property taxpayers, Pearsall said.

Religious

Assessors and the Arizona Association of Counties also oppose House Bill 2128, which would reduce property taxes to the lowest level on buildings leased to religious institutions.

They would become Class 9 properties with a 95 percent reduction on their property values, Pearsall said.

Former Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill last year, Pearsall said.

The building owners would have to pass their tax savings on to the religious institution renters, Pearsall said.

Current law already gives Class 9 classification to religious institutions that own their churches, as well as charter schools, Pearsall said.

Non-profits could be next, she said.

Follow Joanna Dodder on Twitter @joannadodder

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