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L.A. County could get nearly $50 million less in property taxes

Assessor John NoguezL.A. County supervisors are wondering why the county could receive almost $50 million less than expected in property taxes next year and want some answers from the assessor.

Such a shortfall could lead to cuts in law enforcement, education and other services.

Last year, Assessor John Noguez estimated the county property tax base would grow by almost $18.7 billion for the next fiscal year. But he revised that figure to $5.1 billion last week. Property in Los Angeles County was valued at $1.1 trillion last year.

Taxes paid on that real estate is the county's largest source of locally generated revenue and helps fund a variety of services and agencies, including the Sheriff's Department, county education office and Fire Department.

Los Angeles County supervisors are scheduled to begin considering their budget next week. The county has an annual budget of about $23 billion.

On Monday, the supervisors questioned how Noguez's figures could change so drastically.

"I just know that everyone has never seen that kind of a swing in a three-month period," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "Something went wrong. Either [the assessor] was either dead wrong in December, or they're dead wrong in March."

The biggest drop occurred in properties that declined in value. In December, Noguez estimated that the tax base would drop by about $2.6 billion because of falling home prices. That number changed to about $13.5 billion in his latest report.

"This inexplicably precipitous decline … is shocking and cannot be accepted without scrutiny and verification," Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said in a statement.


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Photo: John Noguez. Credit: L.A. County.

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