Property assessments jump 11.5 percent in Stanislaus County

jnsbranti@modbee.comJune 30, 2014 

Stanislaus County property assessments soared by more than $4 billion this year – jumping 11.5 percent to nearly $39.2 billion.

That increase in home and land values is a clear sign the county finally is recovering from the real estate market crash that devastated the region from 2008 to 2012.

That’s the good news.

Here’s the bad news: Property taxes will increase accordingly.

“The 2014-2015 assessment roll will produce approximately $390 million in revenue to be shared by public schools, the county, cities and special districts,” Assessor Don Gaekle said.

Gaekle’s office this year reviewed more than 66,000 residential properties that previously had fallen in value. Because values are up, Gaekle warned that those homeowners will see significant increases in their assessments for the 2014-2015 tax year.

Property owners can find out what their assessments are by typing an address into an online database posted at http://qa.co.stanislaus.ca.us/AssessorWeb/public/ValueNotice-Search.jsp.

Or they can wait until their property tax bills arrive in the fall.

Last year, 51 percent of the county’s parcels were charged lower property taxes because their market values had fallen. But this year, only 27 percent will get such tax breaks. Gaekle said the rest will be restored to their Proposition 13 factored base value for tax purposes.

Assessments increased the most in Hughson, up 35.5 percent, and Patterson, up 23.3 percent.

Patterson values rose nearly $295 million in one year. Much of that increase can be attributed to last year’s opening of a 1 million-square-foot Amazon distribution center and a large Walmart retail store.

“We also have had a big run-up in our residential values,” Patterson City Manager Rod Butler said.

Butler estimated the assessment boost will generate $250,000 to $400,000 in additional property tax revenue for his city’s budget this year. Patterson plans to spend most of those funds on law enforcement to hire another sergeant plus a community resource deputy.

Hughson plans to be cautious before increasing its city spending based on this year’s $124 million bump in property values, assured City Manager Raul Mendez. He is not sure why Hughson’s assessments increased so much because no big commercial buildings opened during the past year.

“We’re not getting overly excited about it,” Mendez said. “But it’s definitely a very positive thing.”

Hughson is Stanislaus’ smallest city, with 7,000 residents. Before the recession, it had 28 city employees. Only 14 remain, which Mendez said is not a sustainable staffing level. But he said city leaders are budgeting conservatively as the economy continues to recover.

Property owners who have assessment questions can contact the Assessor’s Office by calling (209) 525-6461 or visiting 1010 10th St., Modesto, Suite 2400, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

“Our goal is to provide the taxpayer courteous, professional service, and we do our best to help them understand the complexities of the property tax process,” Gaekle said. His office assesses 178,000 units of property and business each year.

Assessments may be appealed until Nov. 30. Appeal forms are available from the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board at 1010 10th St., Suite 6700, Modesto. They also are posted at www.stancounty.com/board/aab.shtm.

Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at jnsbranti@modbee.com or (209) 578-2196.

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