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FLORENCE — After trimming Pinal County’s primary property tax rate by four cents in each of the last few budget years, county officials have approved a bigger slice to give back $1.7 million to taxpayers.

The tax rate drops from $3.75 per $100 of net assessed value to $3.69 in the tentative annual budget that the Pinal County Board of Supervisors approved on Wednesday. The new budget year begins July 1.

Individual taxpayers may or may not see a net savings, according to how much assessed value has gone up and the tax rates of other jurisdictions. The county’s existing property valuation has increased by $55 million, plus new construction valued at $125 million.

“It’s important that the public knows that even though we’re reducing the rate, values of homes are going up. And so unfortunately the homeowners are not likely going to see a reduction,” Supervisor Kevin Cavanaugh, R-Coolidge, said.

Pinal County Budget Director Angie Woods said this is why the county must make a “Truth in Taxation” notice and hold a public hearing at the time of final budget adoption. Board Chairman Steve Miller, R-Casa Grande, said that by law a homeowner’s taxes can’t increase by more than 5%.

Eleven years ago, the county was collecting its maximum-allowable property tax. It is now set to levy $105.8 million, which is $63 million less than the maximum, Woods said.

Eleven years ago, the county had 2,594 full-time employees. The total had dropped to under 2,000 by the 2015-16 fiscal year. The county is back up to 2,228 full-time employees, just 17 more than it had in 2011-12, Woods told the board. The new budget includes “strategic compensation increases,” she said.

Woods also told the board Wednesday:

  • The total budget of $734.5 million is an increase of more than $164 million. This is primarily due to increases in grant funding, including from the American Rescue Plan and other grants to support COVID-19 relief.
  • Criminal justice and law enforcement account for 30% of county spending; transportation and general government are almost as large at about 28% each.
  • On average, the Pinal County portion of the local tax levy is 24 cents of the tax dollar, down from 31 cents 11 years ago.

The budget includes Pinal’s strategic priority of maintaining a financial reserve equal to 20% of budgeted spending.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.