SoCal suffering from lower tax revenue?

STUDIO CITY, Calif. Nearly 49,000 Los Angeles County homeowners have appealed their 2008 property tax assessments, a threefold increase over the previous year.

"We didn't achieve everything we wanted to achieve, but we were able to get a little bit of a reduction," said Dick Sepetjlan, Woodland Hills.

A big reduction in property tax revenues for all counties is a major problem in the economic downturn. Los Angeles County has seen its assessed values drop some $11 billion. The drop cost the L.A. County and its citizens about $150 million in property taxes, the biggest source of revenue in any county.

"Things like the sherriff's department, public works, parks, libraries, the basic municipal services that the county provides," said /*Zev Yaroslavsky*/, L.A. County Supervisor.

"Generally property tax is fairly stable and goes up each year, but -- again -- this will be the third time in the last 30 years, that there has been a reduction," said /*Rick Auerbach*/, L.A. County Assessor.

The Inland Empire is especially hard hit because there have been more building, more foreclosures and bad loans. The San Bernardino Assessor's Office predicts a 6 percent drop in its assessment role compared to the 1 percent drop in L.A. County. But the Los Angeles County supervisors have a population that dwarfs both Riverside and San Bernardino counties; and the drop in property tax collections in L.A. County could grow. The assessors can hand out reductions for 500,000 homes.

"No one anticipated that we were going to have this kind of a meltdown in the economy," said Yaroslavsky. "We budget the worse case, we have always assumed is a 1991-type recession, a 2000-type recession -- not a 1930s recession."

The assessor's books won't be closed until July 1. By then, the property tax base could have fallen deeper, and that could have an effect on everything from pothole repair to law enforcement.


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