Surprise Voters Consider Secondary Property Tax

Published: Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 6:07pm
Updated: Friday, October 21, 2016 - 1:05pm
Audio icon Download mp3 (2.34 MB)
(Photo courtesy of Surprise)

The city of Surprise wants to add a secondary property tax to pay for a wide range of projects officials say are overdue.

Surprise wants to sell $63 million in general obligation bonds to investors.

If voters approve, officials estimate about 46 percent of the money would go toward land for a recreational complex and expanding the city’s aquatic center. The rest would pay for a variety of projects such as transportation, public works and public safety. City officials have said all projects will be complete in five years, and it will take 24 years to pay back the bonds.

Surprise has grown tremendously, said City Manager Bob Wingenroth.

“We really are behind on fire stations, on a couple of the road projects,” Wingenroth said. “For us, this is catching up to the population that we have.”

If voters reject the bond sale, Surprise will prioritize public safety projects and the city will pay as it goes, Wingenroth said.

If voters approve, homeowners like Jescika Holloway will see a property tax increase of about 46 cents more per $100 of assessed property value. Holloway said she hasn’t decided how she’ll vote. 

“Because honestly, in the past they say they’re going to raise the taxes,” Holloway said. “And they do, of course. But then the money goes to other areas. And some people are benefited from it, and some people are not.”

Holloway said she’ll probably make up her mind the night before the election.

Other government entities can also increase property taxes. Surprise officials said the city has not raised its primary property tax in two years, when it was done to maintain previous revenues due to a decline in property values. City officials also said secondary property tax revenue, if approved by voters, can only go toward paying off the bond debt.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include a response from the city about it's primary property tax and the proposed secondary property tax.