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This is my effort to share my thoughts with readers about concerns facing our country today.  I believe there is a good chance my grandchildren may be the first generation in the history of this great country not to have a better standard of living than their parents. If so, our generation is to blame. The clock is running out for damage control. .

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Friday
Aug012008

Property Tax Wars Looming

Real estate values have dropped over the last two years. The bubble has burst. Your property taxes will be going down, right?

I can only give you a personal example. I own a lot in Scottsdale, AZ. Much to my surprise, the Maricopa County Assessor decided the value of that lot doubled last year. Not a single lot has sold in the development the past three years. I appealed the appraisal. Went before the poor guy who sat at a desk and listened to one of these every 15 minutes for two weeks. Guess what, appeal denied. I retained an attorney who is taking it on a contingency fee since it is so blatantly wrong.

I'm giving you a heads up. Think about this a little. If property values are down by as much as 50% in many areas, including Arizona, what is going to happen? Are assessments going to go down 50%? If they do, what will the city, township, or county do for revenue? Will they cut expenses by 50%? No. Never happen. Appraisals went up as the values went up.

You are going to need to watch this like a hawk. They are going to pull out all the stops to avoid giving you a fair shake. They are in the worst possible situation. Real estate taxes support schools, police and fire, parks, and other local services. The rate of tax can only be adjusted by a vote. If the tax base goes down due to lower real estate values, the only way they can meet the budget requirements is by raising the tax rate. To do this in most areas the voters have to agree. In this climate, that is unlikely. Still, as values went up and revenues swelled, the excess was spent. Very few saved for a rainy day.

They are left to cut expenses. Can't do it. Don't know how. Never had to do it. First threat, they will cut all sports in schools. Next, fire protection  will be cut as well as your police presence. Never, never will they eliminate the jobs of the people who sit behind desks and make your life difficult. The layer of school executives won't be cut. The obscene salaries of those good people won't be cut. They will try to blackmail you into letting them raise the tax rate.

At the same time, they will try every trick  in the book to scam the assessment process. Appeal, if that doesn't work, hire an attorney. For some reason, an attorney can state the same facts you state more clearly and get an appeal approved. Strange, isn't it. Do some of those fees leak into some one's pocket in that process? What a shock that would be.  Residents of Chicago understand how this works.

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