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The Region

Ventura County Tax Bills Mailed

Property assessments top $805 million. Much of the increase is attributed to soaring home prices.

October 16, 2003|Lynne Barnes | Times Staff Writer

Tax bills totaling more than $805 million have been mailed to property owners, Ventura County Treasurer-Tax Collector Lawrence L. Matheney said this week.

While the bills might be unpleasant for individual homeowners, the numbers are good news for the county as a whole, said Matheney, terming it "the one bright spot" in the state budget crisis.

"Unfortunately, it's a little bit like a Band-Aid over a gushing wound, but at least we've got a Band-Aid," he said.

The tax roll has been steadily increasing the last few years, from $571,982,000 in the 1999-00 tax year to $745,129,000 last year.

This year's total is $805,027,000.

County government's general fund will receive about $110 million of that total, said Paul Derse, the county's chief deputy executive officer. The rest will be distributed to schools, special districts and some cities.

Because property taxes contribute a relatively small portion of the county's $1.2-billion annual budget, the effect of the increase is not as great as might be assumed, Derse said.

"This was a good year for property taxes. However, they weren't nearly enough to offset the increases we were seeing in our expenditures," Derse said. "So we still ended up making cuts."

Much of the property tax increases can be attributed to the large number of homes being bought and sold at skyrocketing prices in recent years, Matheney said.

Ventura County's median home price -- the amount at which half sold for more and half for less -- was $404,000 in September, or $70,000 more than in the same month last year.

For those who have kept their houses, the bills won't be as big a shock as for new homeowners. Proposition 13 restricts tax hikes to 2% unless the property has been sold, expanded or remodeled. About one in every 20 parcels in the county changes ownership each year, according to county officials.

The assessed value of taxable property in the county -- including homes, office buildings, factories, shopping centers, business equipment, aircraft and boats -- is $70.97 billion, up from $65.76 billion a year earlier, Assessor Dan Goodwin said earlier this year.

The first installment of the annual property tax is due Dec. 10, and the second is due April 10. Homeowners who have not received their bills by Oct. 20 should call 654-3744 or e-mail HelpingHand@mail.co.ventura.ca.us.

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Times staff writer Catherine Saillant contributed to this report.

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