PRESCOTT: The telephones at the Yavapai County Assessor's Office have not stopped ringing since property owners received Notices of Value for the 2008 tax year.
Some property owners are concerned about an increase in the full cash value of their property and the lack of a formula to determine the increase.
Charles Phillips and Stan Rowley are curious about the how the assessor's office determines Full Cash Value.
Phillips said the Full Cash Value of his Prescott property increased from $261,487 for the 2007 tax year to $329,804 for the 2008 tax year, a difference of $68,317.
Rowley said his Full Cash Value increased from $238,627 to $334,172, a difference of $95,545.
"I am trying to find out how they figure the amount. Do they just throw amounts in a hat? According to the assessor's office, they don't have a prescribed formula," Rowley said.
Assessor Victor Hambrick said information about determining tax values is available on the county Web site at www.co.yavapai.az.us.
"Basically," Hambrick said, "the Full Cash Value is supposed to be synonymous with market value."
He said the Arizona Department of Revenue monitors each county to ensure that the level of the Full Cash Value is between 74 percent and 82 percent of the market value.
The assessor said the Full Cash Value is "market driven and the percentage of increase could depend on improvements of the property, the settlement of any appeal or court case, or just a change in the market."
Hambrick said his office is required to use sales figures from January 2005 to June 2006 when determining market value.
Instead of going house by house, Hambrick said his department does block appraisals. He added that the Full Market Value might represent a two or three year period between appraisals.
Arizona uses two types of property taxes.
The Secondary Value fluctuates with the market. The tax money from this value pays for things such as bond issues, budget overrides and special districts.
The Primary Value may increase in one of two ways: 10 percent more than the previous year's value; or 25 percent of the difference between the current year's secondary value and the previous year's primary value, whichever is greater. The primary value never should exceed the secondary value.
Tax money from this value goes to the state or local government's maintenance and operational budgets.
Hambrick said if a property owner disagrees with the noticed value, he or she could file an appeal with his office no later than 60 days from the Notice of Value mailing date.
"People see property values and see a direct relationship to taxes but it is an indirect relationship. Full Cash Value, by law, must be relative to market value. People should ask themselves 'how close to market value is that Full Cash Value," Hambrick said.
Anyone wanting more information about his or her Notice of Valuation can call the Assessor's Office at 771-3220.