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Placer County assessment roll echoes drop in real estate values

By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County’s assessment roll dropped 2.6 percent this year, according to figures released Monday by Placer County Assessor Kristen Spears. Spears blamed declining real estate values for the decrease. Assessed values totaled $56.57 billion, down from the prior year’s assessment roll of $58.08 billion. That compares with real estate boom totals between 2000 and 2006, when the county rolls experienced double-digit growth for seven consecutive years. Since 2007, the assessor has recognized declining property values through a mass review program. This year marks the most significant reduction in property values over the past 30 years. Due to the continuing decline of property values, assessor staff reviewed over 150,000 properties that experienced a change in ownership or were constructed in the past seven years. Over 62,000 property values were temporarily reduced, representing reductions to over 35 percent of the properties in the county. Values within the city of Auburn decreased 4.13 percent to $1.68 billion. Values in other communities were: Colfax ($182 million); Lincoln ($5.9 billion); Loomis ($800 million); Rocklin ($7 billion); Roseville ($16.7 billion); and unincorporated Placer County ($24.3 billion). Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes, who represents the Auburn area, said that cities like Lincoln – which had a 9.4-percent reduction in assessed values – were the victims of bad timing as new housing development in that city surged near the end of the mid-2000s spike in housing values. Placer County, which had the smallest drop of all jurisdictions in assessed values, was fortunate, the supervisor said. “We still have reserves so we’re in good shape for the 2009-10 budget year but after that, who knows?” Holmes said. “It could go on for another five years but I’m not an economist.” Reductions in property values are temporary and will be reviewed annually and increased once a market recovery starts to reflect higher values. Auburn Mayor Mike Holmes said he has some mixed emotions as he sees assessed values that are more than 4 percent lower this year for the city while his own residence – bought within the past seven years – has been reassessed at 5 percent less than last year. “We will continue to monitor the rate of funds and any changes in revenue,” Holmes said. As the lower assessed values squeeze the city’s expenditures, Holmes said one hope for some potential revenue increases could come from rising gas prices. “A good portion of our sales tax comes from gasoline sales,” Holmes said. That could mean an increase in sales tax revenues, as long as prices don’t rise too high and people cut back on car trips, the mayor said. Throughout July, assessor value notices will be mailed to property owners to inform them of their 2009-2010 assessed values. Many property owners will receive notice of a reduced assessment. However, for those property owners whose Proposition 13 value was lower than their Jan. 1, 2009 market value, they will see that their property’s assessed value inflated by 2 percent as mandated through Proposition 13 and the yearly increase in the California Consumer Price Index. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.