Nowhere is the precipitous drop in real estate prices more evident than in the Jackson County assessor's calculation that the value of all properties declined by 34 percent, from $31.6 billion in 2007 to $20.9 billion today.
For homeowners, the good news is the decline in value means 39 percent of all residential properties will see a reduction in property taxes this year.
The Assessor's Office sent out property tax statements Wednesday to 96,900 accounts in the county. The taxes collected provide revenues for 74 districts, including schools, cities, rural fire departments, the county and others.
For these agencies, the bad news is they will see an overall decline in revenues from $237 million to $233 million.
Of all the cities, Medford will see the biggest decline in revenues — $265,783.
Paul Morrow, accounting supervisor for the Medford Finance Department, said the city built in lower expectations for property tax revenues when it packaged its $99 million 2011-13 general fund budget. "When we built the budget, the writing was on the wall," he said.
Of the 11 cities in the county, eight will get less property tax revenue than they did last year.
Ashland saw the biggest gain in revenues of any city — $242,300. Ashland schools also bucked the downward trend, with a bump in property taxes of $281,764.
Many school districts will see drops in revenues. Medford will be down $162,314 and Central Point will drop $261,227.
Because local property taxes make up a small percentage of most school districts' budgets, the impact will be low, but it's still a worrisome sign. "In the big scheme of things, that could be a couple of teachers cut, or cutting back on curriculum," Jackson County Assessor Josh Gibson said. "It's not the direction the taxing districts want it to go."
Gibson said it's difficult to predict whether the trend will continue downward next year.
Last year, property taxes dropped for 37 percent of residential properties in the county.
Over the past 10 years, the amount collected in taxes has increased 4 percent on average. In 2007 — the peak year — the increase was 11 percent.
The Assessor's Office calculates that the market value on 39 percent of residential properties has dropped below the maximum assessed value, which under state law triggers the reduction in taxes.
By contrast, just four years ago, the market value on average exceeded the assessed value by 50 percent.
Gibson said the decline in real estate hit condominiums particularly hard, with a 23 percent drop in value on average. He cited a particularly severe case in the 400 block of Midway Road, where a condo has lost nearly 70 percent of its value since 2007 — dropping from $175,000 to $52,000.
Most of the remaining 61 percent of county property owners have seen declines in market values but not enough to see property taxes reduced. Instead, they will see the usual 3 percent increase in assessed value allowed by state law.
Factors such as voter-approved bond measures, levies and remodeling work could push up taxes for an individual property owner.
Property owners can appeal the Assessor's Office tax if they can prove their market value is lower than the maximum assessed value listed on tax statements.
Market value is the amount the Assessor's Office calculates a property would be worth if it were sold, while assessed value is the amount that is actually used to determine taxes.
Appeal forms for the Board of Property Tax Appeals are available at the Assessor's Office or at the Jackson County Clerk's Office. However, they must be filed with the Clerk's Office by Dec. 31, 2012. This year the clerk will be charging an $18 fee for the filing.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.