Value of county properties set to drop $125 million

The taxable value of properties in San Juan County are expected to plummet by more than $125 million when the annual assessed valuation is released this week by San Juan County Assessor Howard Randall.
The drop will represent a decrease in the tax base of approximately 12 percent.
The assessed value of area municipalities is not expected to move significantly since the changes this year are primarily in unincorporated areas.
While the total figures will not be released until today (May 29), it is clear that there will be a significant drop in the tax base due to a $128 million drop in the value of centrally-assessed properties.
The centrally-assessed property values were released last week and show a $120 million drop in oil and gas properties, in addition to a $13.5 million drop in metal mining properties.
The valuation of centrally-assessed property is handled by the State of Utah. The properties are primarily industrial in nature and include transportation, mining and utility infrastructure. In San Juan County, the bulk of the value of centrally-assessed properties has historically been in oil and gas properties.
Randall reports that the value of locally-assessed properties will not change dramatically. The properties include residences, commercial properties and agricultural land.
In 2012, a $100 million growth in the assessment increased the taxable value of properties to more than $1 billion. It was the first time since the early 1990s that the values exceeded $1 billion.
It is estimated that the drop in values will lower the total taxable value of San Juan County properties to levels slightly less than in 2011.
The drop in value creates a challenge for county taxing entities because as property values decrease, tax rates generally increase.
Clayton Holt, Business Administrator of the San Juan School District, estimates that if the same rates are used as in 2012, the school district will collect $800,000 less from local property owners in 2013.
The school budget under consideration would keep the tax rates the same, except for an increase in the basic levy, which is set by the State of Utah. The difference in taxes would be approximately $3 for a $150,000 primary residence.
The San Juan School Board will approve a budget and set the tax rate at the June 18 board meeting. Municipalities will also approve budgets and set their tax rates before the beginning of the July 1 fiscal year.
Other county taxing entities, such as the County, Health Care and Transportation districts, set their rates in June but approve budgets in December.
According to the Assessor’s office, the total market value of green belt properties in San Juan County is $263 million. Green belt properties are taxed at less than four percent of the full rate, leaving a taxable value of green belt properties at $9 million.
The total market value of primary residences in San Juan County is $336 million. Since primary residences are taxed at 55 percent of the full rate, the taxable value of primary residences is $185 million.

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