Property valuations targeted

Proposal for '08 ballot could lower tax bills
The Arizona Republic
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Mary Jo Pitzl

Remember your property-tax bill for 2003? Marc Goldstone wants you to not only remember it, but to live with it, essentially, for as long as the property stands.

On Wednesday, the chairman of Arizona Tax Revolt filed an initiative for the November 2008 ballot that would roll back valuations on all properties statewide to 2003 levels. Tax bills are computed on a property's valuation.

"The goal is to keep taxes the same," Goldstone said, arguing that property owners shouldn't have to pay higher taxes just because inflation drove up the market value of their home. advertisement

The measure is a reaction to the rapid rise in property values, and the related taxes, that have hit many Arizona property owners in recent years.

Although California's Proposition 13 is the inspiration for his initiative, Goldstone said he's not proposing a carbon copy.

His rollback calculates valuations against a baseline that draws from 2003 values, freezes them there, and limits increases - for taxation purposes only - to 2 percent a year.

In California, property valuations were frozen at the levels they were when a property was acquired. That meant protections for homeowners who didn't move, but often big tax bills for someone who bought into a neighborhood years later, when the market values of homes had risen.

The measure he filed Wednesday with the Arizona Secretary of State is a companion to a levy rollback that Goldstone filed two weeks ago.

Working in tandem, the measures aim to limit the amount of taxes that various government entities can collect, as well as buffer property owners from upward swings in their tax bills.

Each measure will require the signatures of 230,047 Arizona voters by July 3 to qualify for the ballot.

Goldstone said he is relying on volunteers, at least initially, to collect the needed signatures.

This is the second time Goldstone has attempted to get measures limiting property taxes on the ballot. A similar effort last year fell short.

Despite the populist appeal, the measure faces obstacles from local governments, some business organizations and even the tax-averse Arizona Tax Research Association, which has likened Arizona Tax Revolt's approach to taking a meat cleaver to a problem that needs a scalpel.