Tax deal will cost area $31,000 in revenue

The County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 20 approved lowering the 2011 property tax assessment for the Valley Verde Center shopping area on Duval Mine Road by $1.2 million, a decision that will cost local and county taxing districts $31,000.

The board approved a settlement for the 2011 tax year rather than fight it out in the Arizona Tax Court, where the property owner had filed suit. The settlement followed a July 14 decision by the State Board of Equalization that lowered the assessment for the 2012 tax year and applied the SBE outcome to 2011, Pima County Assessor Bill Staples said.

Staples said the problem began after the former Kmart building was purchased and upgraded by CJR Investments in 2003, led by Gary Heinfeld. Staples said the assessor’s office made a mistake in not monitoring town building permits closely and should have increased the assessment from $2 million in 2006 or 2007, but instead raised the figure to $6.9 million in 2011, a time when many property values were dropping because of the recession.

“They did extensive work in 2005, ’06, and ’07. We should have adjusted the value then, but it took us until 2011. It took folks’ breath away. They did have a successful appeal in the state board of equalization for 2012, and they did file a lawsuit for 2011,” Staples said.

“We agreed to the value established at the state board for 2012. We agreed with that value for 2011, so it’s a one-year loss of tax revenue that the county board approved,” Staples said.

The SBE online docket information says the property owner provided sales data of comparable properties to support a reduction from a full cash value of $5,389,785 to $4,200,000. As a commercial property, its assessment ratio is 19.9 percent, so the tax rates are applied against a value of $834,960.

The combined tax rate on the assessment reduction yields about $31,000, which would have been split among the Sahuarita Unified School District, Pima County government, Pima Community College, Green Valley Fire District and smaller entities.

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Strobeck: New home permits rise, foreclosure notices and repossessions dip

In August, new single-family home permits in the Tucson region hit 141, the second highest monthly volume of the year. To date, 1,035 permits have been issued by various jurisdictions, according to new data from John Strobeck, Bright Future Business Consultants. The year’s peak was 157 permits issued in March.

In the same month, Pima County issued the most permits at 48, followed by Marana at 29. Year-over-year, the steepest drop was in permits issued by the City of Tucson, where they were down 36 percent.

PulteGroup pulled the most permits last month with 21, followed by Lennar at 17, Strobeck said.
Across the region, the pace of new home construction is 27 percent behind last year. For 2011, Strobeck estimates that 1,450 to 1,500 permits will be issued.

For new-built homes, 115 closings were recorded in August, up from 87 in July. That was the year’s second highest mark after 119 sales in March. In August 2010, there were 131 newly built homes sold. For the year, there have been 805 new construction closings, Strobeck said. New construction closings are on track to hit 1,200 to 1,300 this year.

In August, lenders issued 1,214 foreclosure notices in Pima County. That affected one out of every 353 housing units in the region. The national ratio was one in 570 homes.

The new data is from RealtyTrac, an online marketplace of foreclosed properties, in its August Market Report. In Pima County, the total was 24 percent higher at 1,602 notices in August 2010.

Nationally, lenders repossessed 64,813 homes in August, 4 percent fewer than in July and a 32 percent less than in August 2010. In Pima County, 277 houses were repossessed, far less than the 634 repossessions in July. The August 2010 level was 562 units.

Arizona posted the nation’s third highest state foreclosure rate for the second consecutive month. Statewide, one in every 248 housing units received a foreclosure filing in August.

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