Residents living inside the city limits will soon see a decrease in their property tax rate.
At its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 13 the Douglas City Council passed the third and final reading of an ordinance that will decrease the 2020 property tax rate from 1.1782 to 1.1591 per $100 assessed valuation, that will levy $652,867 in additional revenue for the city .
Luis Pedroza, Douglas’ management services director, stated that every fiscal year the City of Douglas is required to adopt its property tax levy rate and then submit certification of the levy to the Cochise County Board of Supervisors.
Pedroza noted the primary assessed value for the city this year is $56.32 million, which is up $896,468 or 1.6 percent excluding new construction. New construction added $918,611 to the tax rolls.
“The levy is an increase from $642,240 to $652,867 for a total increase of $10,627, due to new construction added in the year,” Pedroza said.
According to information provided at the meeting the City’s portion of the property tax levy on $100,000 assessed value would be $115.91 per year. On the average home valuation of $70,000 it would be $81.14 per year.
The primary property tax levy is used to pay for the general operations expenses of the city government.
“With the sales tax increase in place from fiscal year 2020-2021 that brings in revenue from visitors and temporary residents equal to more than what our permanent residents contribute, staff continues to recommend decreasing the levy to keep the property tax on our residents generally at the same level as the prior year,” Pedroza said.
In other action at the meeting, the council approved the final reading of an ordinance setting the monthly sewer fees for the residents living in Bay Acres which is currently undergoing a sewer connection project.
The residential fees, which are scheduled to go into effect in June, will be $32.02 per month for residential and $52.03 per month for commercial, providing they stay under 200,000 gallons per month. Should a business go over, the commercial fees will increase to $95.
The additional fees will reportedly bring approximately $11,207 per month for residential and $156.09 per month for commercial for the sewer fund.
The fees being charged to the Bay Acres residents are slightly higher than those currently being paid by Douglas residents. Should Bay Acres become annexed into the City, Pedroza said, their sewer fees will go down to $25 for residential, and $37 for commercial which is what residents and businesses inside the city limits are currently paying.
The approved ordinance also clarifies language regarding the $20 residents will be charged if their water is turned off.
“Currently, the language is unclear in stating that we can assess the turn-off fee at the day of shutoffs,” Pedroza said. “It can be interpreted as saying the fee will be assessed when the actual turn-off happens, leaving a window of opportunity for homes to pay that day without getting assessed the fee; or homes may illegally open their water after the City has turned them off and claim that water was never turned off and therefore the fee should not apply to their account.”
Pedroza noted that language inserted in the ordinance clearly aligns the fee to be issued on the day of turn-offs and the day is established depending on day of the week and availability of resources.
“The date of turn-offs is always communicated to the customers on their regular and delinquent bills,” he said. “The monthly fees will only apply to those residents that signed the contract and agreed to receive the free connection.”