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Cities, Schools Get $13-Million Tax Surprise

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The value of property in Ventura County increased last year at its fastest rate in a decade and will yield about $13 million more in tax revenue than was expected by financially strapped cities, schools and the county, Assessor Jerry Sanford said Thursday.

Property values on the countywide tax roll jumped by 13.5% to $37.9 billion because of a surge in construction of new houses and businesses, said Sanford, who originally projected a 9.5% increase last fall.

The added growth means that about $45 million in new taxes, instead of $32 million, will be distributed among city and county governments, school and community college districts, and special districts that provide services such as fire protection, flood control and libraries, the assessor said.

County government gets about one-third of each property tax dollar, the cities receive another third and the schools and special districts the remainder, Sanford said.

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“This is an extreme surprise,” the assessor said. His estimates as recently as two weeks ago put the increase at only about 11.5%, he said.

“But, being an assessor, you’re always a little bit conservative. Throughout the state, some assessors have gotten their noses bloodied by estimating too high,” he added.

The effect of the extra money for the cities can best be seen in Oxnard, which cut programs and eliminated 18 1/2 jobs last week to pare $1.2 million and balance its budget.

William Mayer, Oxnard budget director, said Thursday that the difference between the 9.5% increase in property taxes the city expected and the 16.7% increase that actually occurred will be more than $500,000 in new taxes.

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If the City Council chooses, that amount could pay for reinstatement of at least 12 jobs the council had decided to cut through attrition, he said.

“We knew the projection was conservative,” Mayer said. “But I’m still very surprised, and very pleased.”

At Ventura County, where analysts based their budget on an 11.5% increase, the surprisingly high values could mean up to $2 million in added revenue, or as little as $1 million, Budget Manager Bert Bigler estimated.

That is not much compared with the county’s general fund budget of about $377 million, he said. But it does give the county a buffer against expected state budget cuts that could cost the county more than $2 million, he said.

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The extra money also could be used to nibble away at the $134 million the county needs by 1994 to construct and maintain buildings, Bigler said.

The 1990-91 tax roll released by Sanford on Wednesday shows that the bulk of the county’s growth continued to occur in Thousand Oaks, Oxnard and Simi Valley.

The slowest growth was experienced in Ventura, where values increased by less than 10%.

Overall, values increased because of new-home construction, which was up 2,000 houses to 17,480 within the last year, Sanford said. “Another factor was development of commercial property on farm land. The values go up by millions and millions,” he said.

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Values in Thousand Oaks increased by more than $900 million to $7.6 billion as new houses were built and properties were sold and revalued to current market standards, Sanford said.

Under Proposition 13, the 1978 tax-limitation initiative, property taxes cannot be increased to reflect true value except when real estate is sold.

Most new construction in the Thousand Oaks area was in Westlake and at North Ranch, he said.

Oxnard, second in assessed value to Thousand Oaks with $5.25 billion, saw its taxable property surge by about $770 million. Construction of seven new auto dealerships and large new stores and business parks along the Ventura Freeway led the building boom, Sanford said.

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“There was also some fairly major commercial development in Simi Valley,” he said.

The assessor said that while his estimates of value continued to climb throughout the spring, the full extent of the increase was not known until this week.

An unusually large number of major properties, such as hotels and big companies, were taken off computerized tax rolls this spring while their taxable inventories were revalued, he said. They were placed back on the rolls within the last 10 days, he said.

The 13.5% countywide increase in values for 1990-91 compares with an average increase of 11.4% over the last 10 years, the assessor’s figures show. The 13% growth two years ago had been the highest since 1981-82, when values jumped 17.1%.

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VENTURA COUNTY PROPERTY TAX ROLL

89/90 90/91 CITY (in millions) (in millions) % Change Fillmore 260.4 302.0 +15.99 Ojai 392.0 432.3 +10.29 Oxnard 4,494.3 5,245.9 +16.72 Santa Paula 605.0 687.0 +13.56 Ventura 4,418.1 4,842.8 +9.61 Port Hueneme 593.8 672.4 +13.23 Camarillo 3,038.4 3,444.6 +13.37 Thousand Oaks 6,698.5 7,623.5 +13.81 Simi Valley 4,612.6 5,200.0 +12.74 Moorpark 1,351.8 1,550.2 +14.67

SCHOOL DISTRICTS: Values shown reflect property in school districts that are outside of city limits.

89/90 90/91 (in millions) (in millions) % Change Briggs 96.4 116.4 +20.81 Conejo Val. Unified 840.9 1,001.5 +19.11 Cuyama Union 12.1 13.5 +10.78 Fillmore Unified 394.0 413.2 +4.85 Hueneme 371.8 412.3 +10.90 L. Virgenes Unified 228.9 269.8 +17.86 Mesa Union 215.7 247.1 +14.52 Moorpark Unified 136.1 160.3 +17.75 Mupu 33.0 35.3 +6.98 Oak Park Unified 767.2 968.5 +26.24 Ocean View 241.9 273.2 +12.98 Ojai Unified 666.1 744.5 +11.76 Oxnard* 116.1 140.9 +21.37 Pleasant Valley 668.0 835.2 +25.04 Rio 248.0 252.6 +1.85 Santa Clara 33.4 34.5 +3.41 Santa Paula* 81.0 85.6 +5.63 Simi Valley Unified 176.4 230.5 +30.67 Somis Union 265.2 295.8 +11.55 Ventura Unified 1,361.5 1,401.9 +2.97 COUNTYWIDE 33,418.6 37,933.3 +13.51

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* denotes combined values for high school and elementary school districts


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