Limited Signs of Economic Improvement

County assessment roll growth turns slightly positive

 

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On July 1, Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone formally delivered the 2011-12 assessment roll to the County’s Finance Agency and Tax Collector. The assessment roll increased slightly from $296 billion to $299 billion, a 0.88% increase. The assessment roll is a snapshot of the total assessed value of all real and business property in Santa Clara County, as of January 1, 2011, the lien (valuation) date. These values are used to create the annual property tax bills mailed in September. Property tax revenue funds public schools and local governments.

“Compared to the last three years, this modest increase in property assessments is encouraging, and hopefully signifies the beginning of a positive trend from the depths of the Great Recession,” said Stone. However, if you analyze my 16 year tenure as County Assessor, this growth is the third worst on record. In nine of those years, growth in assessed values exceeded five percent, including two years of double digit increases.” Attached is a report showing the five year trend by city. The annual growth in the assessment roll is a combination of a number of factors including changes in ownership, exemptions, reductions when market values fall below the assessed values (Proposition 8), new construction and the California Consumer Price Index (CCPI). It also includes the values of business personal property, which include machinery, equipment, computers and fixtures.

ne of the major limiting factors was the CCPI, which was a meager 0.753 percent. For properties in which the market values are higher than their purchase price, (73 percent of all county properties), Proposition 13 limits the annual increase in the assessed value to the California Consumer Price Index (CCPI), to not exceed two percent in any year. Only seven times since the voters approved of Proposition 13 in 1978, has the CCPI been less than two percent. Last year, for the first time since Proposition 13 passed, the CCPI was negative.

While County property assessments increased, there were major geographic differences. Cities including Los Altos Hills and Los Altos experienced solid growth at 3.81 percent and 3.59 percent, while other cities such as the unincorporated portions of the County and Milpitas were negative at -4.57 percent and -3.48 percent. When the assessment roll is examined countywide, excluding the 10 redevelopment agencies, assessments in the 15 cities generally were either unchanged or recorded small increases. “This reflects a modest trend in residential property values, indicating that we have finally hit the bottom,” said Stone.

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David K. Ginsborg

 
  • Deputy to the Assessor
  • Phone: 408-299-5588

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