A special session on Monday saw the Pinal County Board of Supervisors drop the primary property tax rate by 13 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
In the special session, the Supervisors adopted the rates for taxing districts in the county. Unanimously approving all Pinal County taxing districts rates, the Board then addressed the current property tax rate set at $3.9999. When adopting the Tentative Budget in June, the Supervisors had voted to drop it two cents to $3.9799.
At the time of the tentative budget hearing, the Supervisors were still unsure if the State of Arizona would further push to enact the One Percent Tax Cap Liability Shift passed by the legislature in 2015.
The One Percent Property Tax Cap Liability Shift was a method of limiting the state’s payment of an “Additional State Aid to Education” tax deduction when a property tax bill of a home goes over one percent of the cash value of that residence. At one time, the state picked up that bill and sent the money to the local school districts. Pinal County was due to pay nearly $1.7 million as ordered to by the Property Tax Oversight Commission. Thanks to a lawsuit brought by Pima County, the state court reversed this cost shift and the state said it would not fight the ruling.
“The big question that faced the Board was the issue of the one percent tax cap liability shift,” said County Manager Greg Stanley. “When the state said they wouldn’t fight the judge’s decision, the option for a larger tax cut was placed on the table.”
There were two options presented to the Board – a 10 cent cut to $3.8999 or a 13 cent cut to $3.8699. The motion was made to cut the tax rate by 13 cents and unanimously adopted.
“When I signed on for the tax increase, I also stipulated that if we were able to get that money back then we would give that money back to the public,” stated Chairman Todd House. “I’m glad we can give that money back to the people.”
District 1 Supervisor Pete Rios said he supports the 13 cent drop, but cautioned the Board: “One of the responsibilities of the Board, while trying to keep the tax rates as low as possible, is to be good stewards of the county. I can’t think of too many departments in Pinal County that can’t use additional workers. There are still a lot of needs out there in Pinal County.”
Vice-Chairman Anthony Smith said he understood Supervisor Rios’ concerns.
“I have appreciation of what we have done in the past few years as for as restoring the fiscal health back to the county,” the Vice-Chairman said. “I recognize the 13 cent reduction as taxpayer dollars and giving back that money to them we put in a reserve fund in case we needed it. Our leadership should be able to manage on a slim and adequate budget that is designed to provide services across the entire county.”