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LOS ANGELES : Property Tax Rolls Rise by Only 1.3% in Year

Natural disasters and economic woes combined to slow Los Angeles County’s property tax rolls to their lowest rate of growth in at least 20 years, Assessor Kenneth Hahn reported Thursday.

The total value of taxable property countywide increased by just 1.3%, to $497 billion, for the fiscal 1994-95 tax year, Hahn said.

Income from property taxes is critical to just about all levels of government in California because most take a share of the tax proceeds. Under Proposition 13, real property is taxed at a base rate of 1% of its value.

Last fall’s wildfires and the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake took a combined $600 million in property values off the county’s tax rolls, Hahn said. The wildfires accounted for about $100 million of the decline and the earthquake, $500 million. Hahn said the full impact of the earthquake may not be registered for another year, and the eventual bill should hit about $1 billion in reduced property values.

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The greatest impact on the tax rolls, however, is the continuing recession.

Property reappraisals to reflect declining real estate prices wiped about $5.8 billion from existing property values, the assessor said. About $5 billion of that figure resulted from reappraisals of commercial, industrial and apartment buildings. The remainder was from single-family homes.

Still, the total value of taxable property increased overall because of the 2% inflationary adjustment, which is applied to properties that are carried on the tax rolls at a value less than their market value.

Another measure of the troubled economy was reflected in the assessor’s count of foreclosures. The number of property transfers during the year because of foreclosures climbed by to 29,698 from 19,162 the previous year.

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