Uncertainty clouds tax picture for Mohave

KINGMAN - Property owners may see a permanent decrease in the property taxes next year - or maybe not. It all depends on the Arizona Legislature.

The Board of Supervisors adopted the 2010 tax levies and rates for all the taxing entities in the county Monday, including the Arizona School Equalization Tax, which is designed to provide funding for schools. The Arizona Legislature suspended it in 2006 as part of a budget deal with former Gov. Janet Napolitano.

The tax was due to be reconsidered in the 2010 state budget. According to the East Valley Tribune, it could bring in $250 million to the state if allowed to return to the tax bills. Gov. Jan Brewer agreed to repeal the tax as part of a deal to get her one-cent sales tax passed earlier this year.

But now the budget is stalled and the deadline to set county property tax levies and rates was Monday. In an effort to hedge their bets, the Board approved the equalization tax rate along with all the other tax rates in the county.

"If it is removed by the Legislature, we will ask the treasurer not to collect it," Deputy County Manager of Management Services John Timko told the Board. There has been talk of the Legislature possibly refunding any equalization tax collected if the tax is repealed at a later date.

Supervisor Buster Johnson asked what would happen if the tax was later repealed by the state. Would the county have to refund the money?

"We're stuck with whatever the Legislature does," said County Attorney Bill Ekstrom. "The plan proposed is a workable one."

According to County Treasurer Melissa Havatone, it cost the county around $96,000 to print tax bills last year. That figure would be doubled if the bills have to be printed again based on action by the Legislature.

"Right now we're going to enter it (the Equalization Tax) into the computer," she said. She wanted to have this year's tax bills out by Sept. 1, "but we can hold off if we have to."

"This is about the fourth time we have voted to repeal it," said Sen. Ron Gould. "She (Brewer) keeps vetoing it."

"There's been some talk on the (House) floor about it," said Rep. Nancy McLain. "The Senate could do it by approving the budget package."

The first half of a resident's property taxes are due Oct. 2 but are not delinquent until Nov. 2, Havatone said. Residents can also pay their full tax bill by Dec. 31 without interest.

The Board also approved a request from Peach Springs Unified School District to exceed its 2009 budget by nearly $41,000 in order to pay for legal bills. The bills were accumulated when the school was placed under receivership by the state in 2007.

Also approved were three change orders for work on the new County Development Services Building totaling around $92,200.