by Tom Joyce
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has responded to the rising cost of goods and services with a property tax rate cut.
The board approved a tentative FY 2023 budget aiming to mitigate the impact of inflation in the county by using hundreds of millions of dollars in American Rescue Plan funds for financial assistance and resources to residents and businesses.
“The Phoenix metro area has gone from one of the most affordable in the country to one of the hardest hit by inflation. Our goal with this budget is to provide some relief to individuals and families dealing with rising costs,” Board Chairman Bill Gates said in a press release.
While the board has no control over rising property values, state law gives supervisors the authority to establish the property tax rate. Since the county has seen some of the most significant property value increases in the country, most parcels are likely to see a 5% increase in limited property value. Per a 2012 ballot initiative, that’s the most nearly all residential lots can increase in one year.
Maricopa County’s primary tax rate is reduced to 1.25 percent (about $125 on a $100,000 property) in the FY 2023 budget. Before this cut, Maricopa County had the fifth-lowest rate among Arizona’s 15 counties in Fiscal Year 2022.
“I’ve always said that one of my primary jobs as a supervisor is to look out for taxpayers and to make sure they get a good return on their investment,” Vice Chairman Clint Hickman, District 4, said in the press release. “Because we’ve been fiscally responsible in the past, we can lower the tax rate this year at a time when many families can use every extra penny they can get.”
Employee pension costs have risen considerably in the public sector in recent years, limiting discretionary spending. However, the board is capitalizing on low interest rates this year to pay down its pension commitments, according to the release.
The board will invest $500 million over the next two years in the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) and Corrections Officer Retirement Plan (CORP), which pays out pensions to retiring government personnel in the law enforcement sector. Paying down debt now means paying for these pensions will take up a smaller portion of future budgets.
“I’m pleased that we are taking a long-term view of the county’s financial health while also making targeted investments that help people who need it most right now,” Supervisor Jack Sellers, District 1, said. “Pension debt has been an issue for years, not just in Maricopa County but everywhere, and this aggressive move to pay off debt sooner will benefit both residents and retiring staff.”
The county also notes that it received $435 million in American Rescue Plan funds last year and will receive $435 million this year to aid in its economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The public can comment on the tentative budget until the final budget vote on June 20, 2022.
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