UPDATE: Queen Creek public safety costs to swell as assessed property values increase

As the Town of Queen Creek continues to grow and so are property value estimates as well as the cost to offer public safety services townwide. (File Photo)

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story should have said the town’s EMS budget is $18.1 million, which already accounts for the 28 percent increase in estimated costs. And, the EMS budget is not increasing annually at a rate of $10 million, but rather estimates suggest it will increase in totality over the next five years reaching a total EMS budget of $28 million. We apologize for any confusion this may caused.

As assessed property values in Queen Creek are continuing to increase with hopes of returning to recent recession values, so are the annual costs of public safety services to the town undergoing rapid growth in the southeast Valley.

Town officials are planning to continue using the maximum amount of property tax revenue — $7 million — toward an $18.1 million public safety budget — $11.5 million for the fire department, and $6.6 million for services from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

The remainder of the EMS budget includes a $4.1 million or 28 percent increase — apart of the $18.1 million public safety budget — from last year’s budget to help cover construction costs for a new northeast fire station, which will be covered by a portion of the General Fund’s revenue.

Queen Creek Budget Director Scott McCarty laid out the increased costs for public safety services this upcoming fiscal year with the increased property evaluations during the Town Council meeting on June 6 at Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road.

The EMS budget is looking at an overall increase of $10 million over the next five years due to staffing needs and costs, according to Mr. McCarty.

At 5:30 p.m. on June 20, Queen Creek will host the state-mandated Truth in Taxation Hearing to help the public better understand that although taxes are increasing, it is through the increased level of property values not a proposed tax increase at the ballot.

The hearing will be at 20727 E. Civic Parkway.

“The town is growing in two dimensions,” Mr. McCarty said.

“One is the existing property values recovering since the recession or property value peak of 2008-2009. The other is new construction.”

Overall, the assessed property value in the town is $357 million, a $39.6 million or 12 percent increase from last year.

“This past year, Queen Creek has seen a $17.3 million or 5 percent increase in improved assessed property values and a $22.3 million, or 7 percent increase in new construction,” Mr. McCarty said. “This is a significant increase in assesses property values reflecting a strong investment.”

The average median value of a home in Queen Creek is $211,000, and city officials hope to see an increase to $227,000 next year, or a return to peak values of 2008-09, Mr. McCarty opined.

The primary annual tax for a home valued at $211,000 is $411 a year, a $20 increase from last year, or $1.95 per $100 assessed value on a home, Mr. McCarty said. Of the total amount of property tax paid on a piece of property, approximately 15 cents per dollar goes to the town, which comes from the $1.95 per $100 assessed value.

Here is the breakdown:

  • 15 cents goes toward the town;
  • 11 cents goes toward community college;
  • 10 cents goes to the county;
  • five cents goes to county special districts such as healthcare and flood control; and
  • four cents goes to the state.

Queen Creek has 18,636 parcels of land. Of those, 18,295 lots are in Maricopa County and 341 are in Pinal County.

“The town is growing,” Mr. McCarty said.

“The five percent increase in the improved assessed property value still is seven percent less than what the assessed values were at their peak in 2008-2009 during the recession. Hopefully, next year, we can see an increase to what they were at their peak.”

Editor’s note: Mr. Sakal is a freelance journalist at the Queen Creek Independent

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