Equalization Report: Taxable Value Up

Most local governments in Washtenaw County will see increases in tax revenue this year, according to the 2014 equalization report that county commissioners approved at their April 16, 2014 meeting. The report was presented by Raman Patel, the county’s long-time equalization director.

Equalized (assessed) value is used to calculate taxable value, which determines tax revenues for the county as well as its various municipalities and other entities that rely on taxpayer dollars, including schools, libraries and the Ann Area Arbor Transportation Authority, among others.

For 2014, taxable value in the county increased 2.02% to $14.18 billion. That’s a greater increase than the 1.68% climb in 2013, and an improvement over declines seen in recent years.

It’s also an improvement over projections made when the county administration prepared its 2014 budget. The general fund budget was approved with a projection of $63.79 million in tax revenues. But actual revenues, based on 2014 taxable value, are now estimated at $64.511 million – for an excess in 2014 general fund revenues of $720,486. Patel stressed that at this point, the taxable value is a recommendation and must be approved at the state level.

Patel also presented tentative taxable values for specific jurisdictions. The city of Ann Arbor shows a 2.68% increase in taxable value, while the city of Ypsilanti’s taxable value is an 0.87% increase over 2013. All but three municipalities showed an increase in taxable value. Those municipalities with decreases are the city of Saline (-1.41%), Ypsilanti Township (-0.37%), and the city of Milan (-0.85%).

Properties in the Ann Arbor Public Schools district – which includes the city of Ann Arbor and parts of surrounding townships – will see a 2.37% increase in taxable value. Properties taxed by the Ann Arbor District Library, covering a geographic area which in large part mirrors the AAPS district, increased in value by 2.36%.

Taxable value is determined by a state-mandated formula, and is the lower of two figures: (1) a parcel’s equalized (assessed) value; or (2) a capped value calculated by taking last year’s taxable value minus any losses (such as a building being torn down), multiplied by 5% or the rate of inflation (whichever is lower – this year inflation is 1.6%), plus the value of any additions or new construction.

In 2014, commercial property showed a 3.97% gain in equalized value. Residential property value – the largest classification of property in the county – showed an increase of 5.84%. That’s stronger than last year’s 2.37% increase, which had been the first climb in value since 2007.

Values for developmental property – a relatively small category that covers properties not yet developed – continue to struggle, registering a decrease of 9.54% in equalized value. Industrial property, which dropped 4.78% in equalized value last year, is essentially flat in 2014 at 0.1%. Over the past few years that category has lost significant value, falling from an equalized value of nearly $1 billion in 2007 to this year’s value of $422.146 million.

Countywide, about $400 million is captured by local downtown development authorities (DDAs), local district finance authorities (LDFAs), brownfield tax increment financing, and other entities that are allowed to capture funds from taxing jurisdictions. For taxes levied by Washtenaw County government alone, $2.472 million goes to these other tax-capturing entities that would otherwise be revenues for the county’s general fund.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building at 220 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]