Setting the record straight on Maricopa County taxes - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Setting the record straight on Maricopa County taxes

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Fulton Brock represents District 1 on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 5:00 pm | Updated: 1:56 pm, Thu Aug 25, 2011.

Recent news coverage of the county levy left many with the misleading impression that the Maricopa Board of Supervisors increased property taxes across the county. While individual situations may vary, the fact is that taxes actually fell - by almost $22 million.

The Board of Supervisors has worked hard to be responsible with both taxes and spending. Our goal has been to reduce or keep county taxes flat on the average homeowner. We do this is by adjusting the tax rate. When home values are rising we reduce the tax rate. Conversely, the rate is increased when home values fall.

This process keeps the county controlled portion of the property tax bill steady, resulting in little, if any, change in county taxes paid by the average homeowner.

I say "county taxes" because it is important to note that Maricopa County controls only 10 percent to 15 percent of the property tax bill.

The rest is controlled by others, such as cities and towns, school districts and numerous special taxing districts that deliver services ranging from irrigation to fire protection to health care.

Others may have raised taxes, but on the portion of the tax bill we control, we've kept taxes as low as possible. In 12 of the past 14 years we've cut or maintained the tax rate.

The rate today is nearly 11 percent lower than when I first took office and consequently we have among the lowest property taxes of any major metropolitan area in the West.

Like the average household, Maricopa County balances its budget by controlling spending. Since 2008, we have reduced spending by almost $120 million and eliminated 2,000 positions.

On top of that, we have been forced to transfer another $175 million to the state to help balance its budget. That is an astronomical amount of money that represents a direct pass-through of county resources to the state and translates into 10 cents of the county's $1.26 rate.

Because Maricopa County collects all of the taxes imposed upon property within our borders, we are an easy target of taxpayer anger and frustration. If we really did raise taxes in the fashion implied, we would be deserving of criticism.

Thankfully, that was not the case.

• Fulton Brock has been a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors since 1997. Reach him at (602) 506-1776.

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