Steve Chucri Pledges to Fight Maricopa County Property Tax Increase
Maricopa County is currently feeling the pinch for tax dollars like every other level of government. As a result, the County Board of Supervisors are currently discussing the possibility of raising your property taxes to offset the anticipated FY 2014 budget deficit. According to county budget officials, if supervisors choose to keep next year’s property-tax rate the same as the current year, the county will bring in $36 million less than this year. But $36 million less in tax collection does not necessarily translate to a $36 million dollar deficit.
Maricopa County oversees more than 50 agencies and departments. The county’s revenue comes mainly from sales taxes, vehicle-license taxes, property taxes, and fees. Maricopa is the largest county in the State of Arizona and the fourth most populous county in the country.
So far, Supervisor Steve Chucri, who is new to the Board, is the only board member that has spoken out against the idea of raising property taxes. Chucri recently told the Arizona Republic:
“To automatically presume a tax-rate increase is the only way to go, it’s just way too premature to believe that or to swallow that. As of this point, it’s my intention to keep that rate flat and not to raise it.”
A property-tax bill includes payments to a variety of taxing jurisdictions. The average Maricopa County taxpayer’s bill is split amongst multiple agencies. The chart below breaks down the current budget by spending category:
* School Districts – 56%
* Community Colleges – 12%
* Maricopa County – 12%
* Cities: 11%
* Special Districts (fire & flood) – 5%
* State – 4%
While other Supervisors have expressed their desire to continue studying the issue, at least one Supervisor has been vocal in her support for a property tax increase. According to Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox:
“I really feel that levy is meant to be flexible to accommodate the ups and downs in the economy,” Wilcox said. “It’s not like we’re irresponsible. I think we’re just trying to make sure the county stays stable. And then, when we can lower property taxes, we can do it. But if we do it now, that means we’re going to keep on doing that. Thirty-six million (dollars) this year, how much next year, and when do we stop?
We wonder if Supervisor Wilcox’s “stability” plan includes reimbursing the county for her $1 million dollar lawsuit against the county?
What makes this potential increase worse is that recent history has shown that the county officials have engaged in irresponsible and unchecked spending. Let’s hope the other members of the Board of Supervisors follow Chucri’s lead and pledge a path of fiscal responsibility and sound management.