Pima County is required to send all property owners an annual property tax statement. The county assessor determines the value of your property for tax purposes. The Board of Supervisors is required to calculate the amount of property tax you owe based on the tax rates adopted by the governing bodies of individual jurisdictions, and the county treasurer collects your property tax payments. The county collects and distributes property taxes for all 94 property-taxing jurisdictions within the county.
But just because the bill comes from Pima County, don’t mistakenly think it’s a Pima County tax bill. The Board of Supervisors controls only four of the 94 property tax levies made by various jurisdictions within Pima County. Only a fraction of your property taxes are collected for the county’s use.
A typical homeowner living in Pima County will pay property taxes to a school district, Pima Community College, Pima County, possibly a city, and in some cases a fire district. Last year’s property tax for the eight taxing jurisdictions with the greatest percentage shares is shown in the accompanying table.
The county general fund is primarily used to fund all county operations. On average, this is about 27 percent of your property tax bill. Another 4.5 percent pays for county bonds, 2.7 percent for libraries, and 1.7 percent for flood control. As listed on your tax bill, in total, about 36 percent of your tax bill goes to the county.
But not all of the money raised by the county’s property tax stays in Pima County.
Of the $322 million county general fund, the state takes $105 million for its programs. It is incorrect to think the state does not have a property tax. It simply requires the county to tax for it.
Borrowing a line from “The Wizard of Oz,” “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” In this case, the “man behind the curtain” is the governor and state Legislature. If the state were listed on your property tax bill, the county’s percentage of your bill would decrease from 27 percent to 18 percent.
The property tax increase you will receive this year is only because of state cost transfers imposed on county taxpayers by the state.
Since one-third of your county property taxes go to support state programs, you should consider one-third of your Pima County property tax a state property tax. Your county property tax primarily supports the county criminal justice system: $143 million (44 percent) supports the Sheriff’s Department; $55 million (17 percent) is for the courts; and $35 million (11 percent) goes to the county attorney to prosecute criminals and to indigent defense services to defend them as required by the constitution.
You will receive your property tax statement in September. Please remember the county is required to calculate and collect property taxes, but we are only responsible for a little over a quarter of your total tax bill.
Chuck Huckelberry is the Pima County administrator. Contact him at email@example.com