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County staff outlines implications of property tax increase

Wednesday, Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher talked to the county’s Board of Supervisors about the proposed increase in property taxes. “This is a very difficult decision to make, what we’re going to do here in Yavapai County,” he said. VVN/Bill Helm

Wednesday, Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher talked to the county’s Board of Supervisors about the proposed increase in property taxes. “This is a very difficult decision to make, what we’re going to do here in Yavapai County,” he said. VVN/Bill Helm

Correction

In the July 19 story “County staff outlines implications of property tax increase,” we quoted Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher as saying the Yavapai County jail cooks “60,000 meals a day for our inmates.”

Mascher said Monday that with approximately 600 inmates, and three meals each day, the jail cooks about 54,000 meals each month. That figure, Mascher also said, does not include the meals made available to on-shift employees.

COTTONWOOD – From every $100 that Yavapai County’s residents spend on property taxes, 17 cents goes into a general fund.

The county’s Board of Supervisors held a public hearing Wednesday to explain that the county would like to increase the public’s general fund contribution by 18%.

This, District 3 Supervisor and Chairman Randy Garrison said, is not an 18% overall increase to one’s property taxes.

“I think we could have done better making it clear,” Garrison said. “Unfortunately, it’s not an easy system.”

According to Sedona resident Louis Nosenzo, “the 18% drove everyone through the roof.”

“Had you thought about alternatives, such as a bond issue?” Nosenzo asked.

Yavapai County Administrator Phil Bourdon said Wednesday that “this board has done a great job keeping the tax rate and the tax levy low.”

“To say this board is frugal is polite,” Garrison said. “To say we’re cheap is accurate. We’re protective with how we spend your money.”

Bourdon explained that the property tax increase is meant to generate $8.5 million in revenue this year, of which $4 million would be used toward the design of a new criminal justice center in Prescott.

The other $4.5 million would be “toward paying down our unfunded liability in the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, which provides pensions to our first responders (sheriffs) and detention officers.”

Very difficult decision’

“I’m also a taxpayer,” Yavapai County Sherriff Scott Mascher said Wednesday. “This is a very difficult decision to make, what we’re going to do here in Yavapai County. It’s just going to cost, one way or another. It’s something we truly need.”

Mascher explained that the purpose of the county’s jails is not to warehouse people.

“Our jail is the hub of the criminal justice system,” Mascher said.

The sheriff said that with approximately 600 inmates, and three meals each day, the jail cooks about 54,000 meals each month. That figure, Mascher also said, does not include the meals made available to on-shift employees.

Mascher also said that “Prescott is way behind with infrastructure on how we deal with incarceration.”

“We look at why the law was broken,” Mascher said. “Fifty-two percent of our incarceration is mental health.”

Property versus sales tax

In November 2014, the county’s taxpayers voted against a one-quarter cent sales tax increase, money Garrison said could have gone toward the justice center and pension fund.

“I agree with Randy Garrison. We should have done a sales tax,” Sedona resident Velma Keller said. “The property tax, I think this is out of line. I think you should reconsider. I think it’s unfair.”

According to the Truth in Taxation hearing notice included in the Supervisors’ July 17 agenda packet, the proposed property tax increase would mean that on a on a $100,000 home, the tax would increase from $170.79 to $201.52, a $30.73 increase.

“This proposed increase is exclusive of increased primary property taxes received from new construction,” the notice stated. “The increase is also exclusive of any changes that may occur from property tax levies for voter approved bonded indebtedness or budget and tax overrides.”

The Board of Supervisors will hold a second Truth in Taxation hearing at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 5, in Prescott at the Administrative Services Building, located at 1015 Fair St.

Following the hearing, the board is also expected to vote on the proposed property tax increase.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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