Property taxes will be lowered for 87,656 Stanislaus County landowners this year, including taxes on more than 61 percent of homes.
That's great for taxpayers, but not so good for tax spenders.
Property assessments are being reduced $1.72 billion countywide for the 2010-11 tax year. That's a 4.67 percent drop for this year and an 18.2 percent drop from what properties were assessed at three years ago.
Lower assessments mean proportionately lower property taxes. Those taxes help fund assorted government services, including city, county and state agencies, schools and special districts.
"The condition of the real estate market resulted in the assessor's office reviewing more than 130,000 properties and lowering the assessed value on over 87,000 properties in the county," Stanislaus County Assessor Doug Harms said.
Assessments fell in some cities far more than others.
Newman property values were lowered twice as much as the rest of the county, 10.16 percent. Ceres assessments declined 8.4 percent, followed by Patterson's 7.87 percent drop.
Unincorporated portions of the county — dominated by agricultural land — held their values best, with assessments falling just 2.93 percent.
Modesto was near the middle of the pack, with assessments dropping 4.8 percent.
Although home values did not drop as significantly as they had during the previous three years, Harms said "declines were broader and impacted more than just residential properties."
Harms said commercial property assessments "shrank by more than 13 percent." Assessment values will be lowered for 1,054 commercial properties in the county.
Assessments also will be lowered for 4,531 mobile homes, 2,315 farms and 81,158 residences.
The total 2010-11 regular assessment roll will drop to $35,156,923,896. Harms said those assessments will generate property taxes of about $351 million.
Atop those regular property taxes, however, most landowners will have to pay extra taxes for things like voter- approved bonds for schools, hospitals, colleges and special districts.
The 2010-11 assessments will be reflected in property tax bills mailed in September. Payments are due in December and April.
The assessments are based on a complicated formula that determines what properties theoretically were worth Jan. 1, 2010. Various laws, such as Proposition 13, limit how much assessments can be increased when the real estate market soars.
But never is the assessed value supposed to be higher than a property's resale value, which is why assessments have been dropping since the housing market crashed.
Property owners whose assessments are being lowered will be notified by mail next month.
Owners who have questions about their property's assessed value can contact the assessor's office at 525-6461.
Assessment values can be appealed from July 2 through Nov. 30. Appeal forms are available from the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board at 1010 10th St., Suite 6700, Modesto. The phone number is 525-6414.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2196.