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FLORENCE — Pinal County’s primary property tax rate would decrease from $3.83 per $100 of net assessed value to $3.79 in a tentative budget the Board of Supervisors approved on Wednesday.

Property owners may or may not notice a decrease because of rising assessed values. New construction valuation represented growth of $60 million or 2.56 percent, and the increase in existing property valuation was $105.5 million or 4.48 percent. Local excise tax and State Shared Revenue growth is estimated at 5 to 6 percent.

Supervisor Anthony Smith, R-Maricopa, said the tentative budget is the “rosiest picture this board has seen,” with steadily increasing revenues and efficient spending. Supervisor Steve Miller, R-Casa Grande, agreed, noting the budget battles of prior years.

The total tentative budget is $512,106,937, an increase of more than $60 million from the current budget, partially due to future capital projects, Assistant County Manager Leo Lew told the Supervisors.

The budget includes a 2 percent wage increase in the second quarter for employees who meet expectations, and a 2 percent update to the county’s salary schedule beginning in January. There will be no increase to what employees pay for medical benefits.

A public hearing and final budget adoption vote are expected on June 19.

Property tax funds 49 percent of the county’s General Fund budget; intergovernmental funds cover another 30 percent; and county sales tax accounts for 10 percent. The county spends 63 percent of its General Fund on law enforcement, 25 percent on general government and 11 percent on health.

Even with the 4-cent decrease, Pinal’s primary property tax rate is still the fourth highest in the state; it used to be the third highest, Smith noted. Nevertheless, Pinal taxes just 63 percent of its “maximum capacity,” among the lowest of Arizona counties. Gila County taxes a bit less of its capacity, 62 percent, but has a higher tax rate at $4.19.

Lew told the Supervisors that on average, Pinal County’s portion of a local tax bill is roughly 26 cents on the dollar, down from 31 cents in 2010. The remainder goes to cities, schools and other districts.

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