>County's taxable assessed value down
Property taxes for the 2012-13 fiscal year are due at the Jefferson County Assessment and Taxation office on Thursday, Nov. 15.
   For the second year in a row -- and only the fourth time in the last 20 years -- Jefferson County's taxable assessed value is down.
   The county's taxable value for the 2012-12 fiscal year, $1,428,714,661, is down nearly 0.4 percent from last year's total of $1,434,147,205.
   The drop is nearly all attributable to a drop in utility values in the county -- from $384,794,070 last year to $376,896,930 this year.
   "Many taxing districts will see less in revenue this year than last, because of the drop in utility values and the slight decline in market values in some areas," said Jefferson County Assessor Jean McCloskey.
   The decline in real market value of homes has slowed, based on sales that occurred in 2011, she noted, but the outlook for the coming year is improving.
   "In looking at the 2012 sales for next year, it looks like our real estate market may have bottomed out; we are even seeing an increase in value in some areas," said McCloskey, adding that she will know more in early 2013, "when all of the sales are in."
   This year's tax statements include a new feature: the maximum assessed value.
   "In Oregon, your 'real market value' is not always the value used to compute your property tax bill," McCloskey explained. "A decline in real market value will only affect your total assessed value if it has dropped below your 'maximum assessed value.'"
   Maximum assessed value has been limited to 3 percent growth since the passage of Measure 50 in 1997.
   "Because of that 3 percent growth, even though your market value may have declined, your taxable value could have increased," said McCloskey.
   In the city of Madras, the billing rate jumped from $21.2683 to $21.5051. For a home with a taxable value of $100,000, that would mean an increase of just $23.68 -- if the value had stayed the same.
   The issue of "compression" loomed large this year, especially for local option levies, such as the county jail levy.
   Compression occurs as a result of a tax-limitation measure -- Measure 5 -- which took effect in the 1991-92 tax year. Essentially, the measure limits general governmental taxes to $10 per $1,000 of real market value of property, and school taxes to $5 per $1,000.
   "Compression is up on districts this year. As values come down, compression goes up," said McCloskey, citing the example of the jail.
   This year, the jail levy lost $222,080.33 to compression, up from $215,468.73 last year.
   Residents in the city of Madras, for example, pay county general, library, Jefferson County Fire District, Mountain View Hospital, city, and Madras Aquatic Center levies, and a local option levy for the county jail. The total of those general governmental levies cannot exceed $10 per $1,000 of real market value on the individual account.
   If the levies total more than $10 per $1,000, local option levies, such as the levy for the county jail, are compressed -- or reduced -- first.
   School District 509-J was also hit hard by compression, losing $156,416.36 on its permanent rate levies to compression this year, up from $145,551.49 for the 2011-12 year.
   The top four taxpayers this year were Portland General Electric ($3,653,760.13), Gas Transmission Northwest Corp. ($602,601.67), Pacificorp ($511,030.74) and Bright Wood Corp. ($418,816.05).
   Of the four, only Pacificorp paid higher taxes this year, up from $478,013.13 last year.
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