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Poorer cities pay higher property tax rates than more affluent ones, L.A. County records show [Updated]

August 2, 2010 |  6:00 am

Residents of wealthier cities generally pay lower property tax rates than those in poorer cities, according to L.A. County tax records.

The information, provided by the L.A. County auditor-controller's office, comes amid debate about city salaries and taxes in the working-class community of Bell. The Times' Kim Christensen reported last week that while Bell was paying its city manager nearly $800,000 a year, its residents paid the second-highest property tax rate in the county, 1.55%.

Neighboring working-class cities, including Compton, San Fernando, El Monte, Huntington Park, Maywood, Montebello and Inglewood, also have high property tax rates. Indeed, of the 10 cities with the highest rates, six had median household incomes below $50,000.

The city of Los Angeles ranked No. 13, with a property tax rate of 1.22%.

Cities with the lowest rates tended to be more affluent. The bottom 10 included Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Cerritos and La Habra Heights.

Of the bottom 10, seven had median annual household incomes of at least $100,000 and six had median incomes of at least $128,000.

There were exceptions. Bellflower, a city with a median household income of only $53,000, recorded the lowest tax rate in the county: 1.02%. 

Population appears not to be a major factor in the rate structure. L.A. County's second-largest city, Long Beach, was ranked No. 43 among the county's 88 cities at 1.11%; Glendale was 76, Santa Clarita was 24, Pomona was 23 and Torrance was 74.

All county property owners pay 1% general property tax, along with special or direct assessments levied by their municipalities. The countywide average of all tax rates is 1.16%, or $11.60 for every $1,000 of assessed value.

Check out The Times' full interactive chart tracking property tax rates in Los Angeles County. The chart uses the highest tax rate for the assessed value of homes in each city. It does not account for direct assessments for services such as lighting, sewage, refuse and others charged by cities. Even within cities, rates can vary because of additional assessments for schools or special services that may apply only to certain areas.

-- Shelby Grad and Anthony Pesce

Photo: Protests in Bell. Christine House / For The Times

[For the record, 8:26 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly listed the median income for Bellflower as $60,000].

Investigating Bell: A Times special report:

Is a city manager worth $800,000?

In depth: High salaries in Bell

Interactive: How the salaries got so high

Bell residents are not happy about high salaries

High salaries fuel anger in Bell

Bell council members under investigation for $100,000 salaries

Video: Why do Bell officials make so much money? The Times' Jeff Gottlieb explains.

Bell city manager might be highest paid in nation

Bell council found loophole to allow big salaries

DA expands investigation of Bell

Bell salary scandal has other cities running for cover

Photos: Protests in Bell