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9:57 PM Wed, Dec. 12th

Supervisors place sheriff's override property tax on the ballot

Voters will decide in May whether to increase their property taxes to provide more funds for the Mohave County Sheriff's Office during the next seven fiscal years.

The county supervisors Monday voted unanimously to place the proposed sheriff's override on the May 21 ballot.

The override will require a simple majority vote.

The property tax override would raise more than $2 million a year.

Sheriff Tom Sheahan says the money would pay for new vehicles and other equipment and help the department fill vacancies and make salaries competitive.

Voters also approved a seven-year override in May 1990.

If approved again, the override would go into effect for the 2002-2003 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The added property tax would be 19 cents on $100 of assessed valuation for the first year and 18 cents for the second year.

The increase would average 21 cents during the seven years, Sheahan told the supervisors.

Sheahan had said the tax would be 23 cents per $100 in assessed valuation, but he lowered the figure after meeting with Assessor Bev Payne and her chief deputy, Ron Nicholson.

Contacted after the meeting, Sheahan said the levy could change depending on the property tax rolls and population growth.

If overall property tax revenue were to increase, the rate would drop.

More than 240,000 parcels are on the tax rolls, according to Payne's office.

The primary property tax rate is $1.75 per $100 in assessed valuation, but property owners also pay taxes to support school districts and flood control and other special districts.

The owner of a house valued at $86,000 – the median in the county – would pay $16.34 more in property tax the first year, according to Sheahan's proposal.

During Monday's meeting, one taxpayer spoke loudly against the proposal.

Alex Cariaga, a retired General Motors employee who lives in Fort Mojave, called instead for imposing impact fees upon developers.

"You can vote today for a $5,000 fee, a permit on all residential buildings in Mohave County," he said.

"We are already paying 60 percent of our property taxes on bonds, etc., etc."

Cariaga also suggested a sales tax on electricity generated by the Griffith Energy Project, a 600-megawatt plant located 14 miles southwest of Kingman.

Sheahan said, "I want the citizens of Mohave County to make the decision.

I feel this (election) is the appropriate way to do it."

He said the MCSO has 31 vacancies, including 16 for deputies.

Three of the 16 vacancies are for sergeants.