La Paz County Assessor Anna Camacho says taxpayers will pay less this year due to the overstated valuations, but some taxing entities may choose to increase their tax rate next year. Full statement attached at bottom.
The accounting error at the La Paz County Assessor’s Office amounts to around a million dollars of tax revenue, according to documents reportedly presented to the Arizona Department of Revenue on Monday.
Various taxing districts within La Paz County will have their budgets affected, especially Parker Fire Department, Salome Elementary School, Ehrenberg Fire Department, Wenden Street Light Improvement District and Parker Unified School District, which saw the highest percentages of their budget disappear.
The money was never coming to the tax districts in the first place. The entities’ 2018/2019 budgets were based on an overestimate that was incorrect by a reported $1,053,099.99 of tax revenue. Because the error was made in the value of property known as ‘business personal property,’ it most affects those districts that have the highest number of businesses.
Parker Fire District’s budget will be down by 21 percent, according to the figures reportedly presented to the Arizona Department of Revenue Property Tax Oversight Committee at a Monday afternoon meeting in Phoenix. Salome Elementary School will be down 13 percent, Wenden Street Light Improvement District will be down 11 percent, Ehrenberg Fire District will be down by 9 percent and Parker Unified School District will be down by 8 percent.
La Paz County Assessor Anna Camacho was a part of the meeting. She said that no action was taken at the meeting, only discussion, but that there were several takeaways:
“There may be a statute or precedence to make adjustments to the school district tax rates,” Camacho said, “however, this is up to the County School Superintendent, the County Finance Department, the County Administrator and Board of Supervisors. The Assessor’s Office will be standing by to see if the County School Superintendent and Board of Supervisors can identify the authority to do this and get this done. In the interim, the Assessor’s office is not able to make any address changes or value changes and the Treasurer’s office is at a standstill. Tax bills will also be delayed.”
Camacho drew attention to what she says is a staffing shortage in her office, saying that she is waiting for approval to hire more appraisers and adding, “We are hopeful the Board of Supervisors will realize how important it is to have adequate staffing in the Assessor’s Office.”
Camacho also apologized for the situation, saying she has addressed the issue.
“I am deeply sorry that the current situation finds us in such a difficult position,” she said. “I am hopeful we can learn from this and be able to move forward. Although my apologies will not help any of the entities with their shortfall, I have taken measures to ensure that this situation never happens again. I thank you all for your continued support and look forward to your feedback.”
Assessor’s Office full statement: