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Property taxes bills set to rise

Published: Monday, October 21, 2013 at 7:16 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 21, 2013 at 7:16 a.m.

Most Sonoma County property owners will receive higher property tax bills this month, and they have plenty of company statewide, according to state and local reports.

The total value of Sonoma County's 182,000 tax-assessed properties is $67.4 billion, up 3.3 percent from last year, the state Board of Equalization said.

That uptick is lower than the 4.3 percent statewide increase in assessed property values, and near the midpoint for the 58 counties. Twenty six report larger increases, 29 have lower increases and two (San Diego and Glenn) match Sonoma's 3.3 percent increase.

Changes from last year ranged from an 8.3 percent increase in booming Santa Clara County to a 4.1 percent decline in rural Inyo County.

Santa Clara, home of the tech-enriched Silicon Valley, has the second highest median household income at $84,990, nearly twice the $44,090 in rural, sparsely populated Inyo.

The other six counties reporting property value declines are Lassen (-2.9 percent), Del Norte (-2.8), Sierra (-1.1), Lake (-0.7), Plumas (-0.5) and Mono (-0.4). All but Mono County, at $53,973, have median household incomes below $50,000.

Mendocino County assessment increased 1.3 percent, Napa was up 5.4 percent and Marin 3.7 percent.

Assessed values ranged from $1.1 trillion in Los Angeles (up 4.6 percent) to a mere $500 million in Sierra County. California's total assessment exceeds $4.5 trillion.

San Francisco Bay area values increased 5.5 percent, fueled by the surge in Santa Clara because of ownership changes in ownership and new construction, the Board of Equalization said.

Santa Clara is a “bellwether” for the region, Rousseau said, noting that property values there generally rebound faster from a slump.

Sonoma County is likely to follow the trend, albeit at a lower level than Santa Clara, Rousseau said, predicting a 2 percent rise in assessments next year.

About 125,000 Sonoma County parcels — 69 percent of all residential, commercial and farm properties — will receive the 2 percent increase allowed under Proposition 13 this year, said Bill Rousseau, the county's clerk-recorder-assessor.

With the consumer price index tracking close to 1 percent this year, the 2014 property tax increase applied to all properties that are not subject to reappraisal under Proposition 13 will be closer to that number, he said.

The county Tax Collector's Office is currently mailing property tax bills for 2013-14 and expects to complete the work by Oct. 25, said Jonathan Kadlec, assistant treasurer-tax collector.

Property tax payments are due Nov. 1 and Feb. 1. If not paid by Dec. 10 and April 10, they are delinquent and penalties apply.

The annual assessments are based on property values on Jan. 1, Rousseau said.

About 38,600 properties that received lower assessments in recent recession-plagued years will see larger tax bills this year due to partial or full restoration of their values to Proposition 13 base levels, he said.

About 18,200 properties will receive lowered assessments and will pay less tax, Rousseau said.

Rising assessments, a reflection of economic health, boost property owners' tax bills but also increase their equity, he said.

Schools and county government also get more tax revenue, Rousseau said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.)

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