The Los Angeles County supervisors grilled the county's assessor on Tuesday about why newly revised numbers project $50 million less in property taxes for next year. Supervisors say that $50 million hit could lead to cuts in county services like law enforcement and education.
Assessor John Noguez projected last year that the county property tax base would grow by just over $18 billion for the coming fiscal year. He recently changed that estimate to about $5 billion. Supervisors are calling that an unprecedented revision.
Noguez and an associate talked numbers and presented data to explain the new projection, basically summing the jarring revision up as the result of a "volatile market." The assessor also pointed at the housing market's sharp dip at the end of 2011.
Still, some supervisors characterized Noguez’s fluctuating tax projections as a miscalculation that could lead to cuts in county services.
Some said the miscalculation will certainly affect new fiscal year budget talks that begin next week.
"This is not good news," said supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. "I think the board is trying to overcome its sense of shock about it. A number of members who’ve been here a while say they’ve never seen anything like this before."
"Somebody better quickly explain what’s going on here," he concluded. Ridley-Thomas and other supervisors predict this means cuts to services like law enforcement and education.
The supervisors have directed the L.A. County Auditor-Controller to conduct an independent audit of the assessor’s projections within a month, but some predict that it could take longer.
The assessor says his department supports the review.