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Home values drop, taxes increase

GOLD BEACH — Curry County homeowners are receiving their property tax statements this week and discovering that while the estimated real value of their homes has dropped, their taxes are higher than last year.

“I need to remind people, at least annually, that we are in a recession and property values are dropping, but with Measure 50, they’re not going to get lower taxes,” County Assessor Jim Kolen said Tuesday.

“For the most part, market values remain higher than assessed values,” he added.

The 2010-11 property tax statements were mailed out late last week, and they began arriving in mail boxes on Saturday.

“I’m already getting calls, ‘Why are my taxes going up when the values are going down?’ ” Kolen said.

Tax value increases, he said, are limited to 3 percent by Measure 50, a constitutional amendment approved by Oregon voters in 1997. The Measure-50 limit caused tax values to lag far behind market values as property values climbed through 2007.

“Values were skyrocketing,” Kolen said. “In many cases, property values doubled, tripled or quadrupled, but the assessed values moved ahead at only 3 percent a year.”

In 2007, taxable values of residential properties averaged only 48 percent of their real market values.

“Since 2007, property values have been declining, however, the only way falling values could lower taxes is if market values fall below the limited assessed values,” Kolen said.

“As of Jan. 1, 2010, Curry County assessed values averaged 75 percent of market values for most residential classified properties. That is an average. Some people are going to have real market value that is lower than the assessed value,” he said.

According to Kolen, the average single family home’s market value last year, countywide, was around $257,000.

“This year, that average has dropped by about 15 percent, to $218,000,” he said.

The average home’s taxable value was $159,000 last year, he added.

“This amount increased by 3 percent, to an average of $164,000,” he said.

Approximately $22.7 million is being billed by the tax collector for 2010-11. Of this amount, Curry County receives 6.46 percent. Of the rest, more than 57 percent goes to schools, more than 18 percent to the cities, more than 5 percent to libraries, 3 percent to fire districts and almost 3 percent each to the health and port districts.

“Property tax statements show the amount of tax you pay to each taxing district in which your property is located and they show this year’s total tax compared to last year,” he said.

The tax statement also shows this year’s real market and assessed values compared to last year.

“The real market value is the assessor’s estimate of what the property would have sold for on Jan. 1, 2010, and is based upon sales evidence collected in 2009,” Kolen said. “Market reductions which have occurred since Jan. 1, 2010 will be reflected on next year’s tax statements.”

Kolen said each year there are thousands of individual changes to the property tax roll, and the tax bill serves as notice for those changes.

He said that taxpayers should review their tax statements carefully, and if they have questions or have not received their tax bill by Nov. 1, they should call the Curry County tax office at 541-247-3305, or 866-298-0307. Valuation questions should be directed to the assessor’s office at 541-247-3294, or 800-242-7601.

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