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Placer County property tax revenue drops nearly 3 percent

Conservative budgeting leaves county with $1 million, CEO says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A report issued Monday reveals decreasing property tax revenues throughout Placer County, but officials say the information is not going to impact the budgets they already have. According to Kristen Spears, Placer County assessor, the 2011 Assessment Roll decreased 2.96 percent from last year due to the continuing declines in the real estate market. Spears said the annual property assessment roll generates the property tax revenue in Placer County that is used to fund education, criminal justice, health, welfare, transportation and other city and county government services. Tom Miller, Placer County chief executive officer, said the 2.96 percent drop is not expected to impact the county in a negative way. “Actually on Placer County’s budget we predicted a drop in property tax revenue that was already one percentage point worse than what the assessor predicted,” Miller said Tuesday. “This is somewhat good news to us. You would have had to have your head in the sand to think the property tax was not going down.” Miller said this leaves about $1 million more in property tax revenue than the county budgeted for. However, it is not going to be used to give extra funding to existing programs because of the state’s realignment program that is scheduled to bring 300 inmates on an annual basis from the prisons to Placer County Jail. Through the program about 300 people will also be released to county probation rather than state parole, Miller said. “Although we are getting some funds for that from the state, trying to balance the actual cost with the funds received is going to be a challenge,” Miller said. The million dollars could help with the additional funds needed for this program, Miller said. “We do have the million dollars but I would say it’s by any means not any excess dollars,” Miller said. “It’s great to have it, don’t get me wrong, but it also shows the Board of Supervisors has always budgeted conservatively. Thus far budget workshops look like, and it will be at the board’s discretion as to what to do, but we are not anticipating any reductions. We are actually status quo.” Miller said the county will also not be rehiring the three positions it laid off because they fell in areas where the work was changed by the state. Andy Heath, director of administrative services for the city of Auburn, said the almost 3 percent drop in property tax revenue for the city of Auburn, from $1.565 billion to $1.519 billion, is not expected to have a negative impact on the city’s budgeted amount for property tax revenue. “I forecasted a 3 percent drop,” Heath said. “So, it came out pretty well according to that. This is just for the secure role. It doesn’t have any other adjustments. That we won’t know until October when we find out what our distributions are going to be.” Heath said a number of funds are taken out for other areas in Auburn such as schools, the Auburn Area Recreation and Parks District and the county’s general fund before the city sees its share. “This is a good preliminary kind of notification the city gets to say, ‘OK, we can expect our roll will go down three percent, basically,’” he said. Heath said in terms of the 3 percent drop having any future impact on city programs, all sources of revenue have to be gathered and assessed before impacts are known for the budget that will be presented June 27, 2012. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com