While some of us might grudgingly pay taxes, most of us probably understand that taxes are the price of living in our society. We know taxes pay for roads, public education, law enforcement, safe buildings, fair elections and much more. And we expect that taxes will be assessed and collected in a fair and equal way.
What might be a surprise to you is to know how much work, time and expertise went into the creation of your tax bill, and what it takes to ensure fairness. Here is how that process works:
The data used to value a property was collected by the County Assessor’s office from July 2014 through June 2015. During that time, the Assessor’s Office conducted field checks, inspected permits, examined land values and made market adjustments on all properties to prepare a single value for every piece of property within the county.
Once the Assessor’s Office finalized the values, they were sent to the Arizona Department of Revenue (DOR). The DOR has oversight capacity as is set in state statutes. The DOR checked and analyzed the values to make sure they are compliant with the rules and guidelines set by the state. Once approved by DOR, the assessor mailed out the Notice of Value (NOV) to the owner of every parcel.
Once they receive the NOV, taxpayers have the opportunity to appeal the value of their property. If they do so, the County Board of Equalization, or, if necessary, a tax court, would make a recommendation. That process lasts until September 2016.
There are many layers to the process so the taxpayer can ensure their property is valued properly.
After the valuation process is complete, the aggregate of all the property values are determined and the County Finance Department prepares the estimated collections on all properties to estimate the baseline for the County Budget.
In July, the Fiscal Year 2017- 2018 County Budget was adopted. The tax rates were set in August, as required by state law. These actions were taken in public at BOS meetings.
Tax bills were then calculated by the County Treasurer. This included ensuring each parcel received a correctly calculated tax bill for their pro rata share. The bills were printed and mailed after the calculations were completed.
The County Treasurer oversees the collection of all the taxes in the county. Many of the taxes collected are for special districts and other taxing jurisdictions – only six percent goes to the county general fund.
Time, resources, experience and dedication go into this continual process. There are many revolving deadlines and several county agencies involved with ensuring the various functions of tax collection are met.
The county will continue to ensure that this process complies with state law and is transparent for all the citizens in the county. Our society functions in part because government builds and maintains infrastructure, and works to keep residents safe and healthy. Successful government is built in part on trust among the people of a society. Coconino County is dedicated to building and retaining that trust with its citizens. FBN
By Cynthia Seelhammer