As a property owner and seasonal resident of Fountain Hills, I follow news relating to town politics, services and taxes. In addition to Maricopa County property taxes we pay the annual $36 Environmental Fee. Surprisingly, the town has not established a collection system for those in arrears. The town is considering replacing this with a $180 annual fee. One can only assume that this new, increased fee will result in an even greater delinquency rate.
In Canada, property taxes are assessed by all towns and cities. These taxes cover the costs of all municipal services including fire, police, garbage collection, capital costs and maintenance expenses for streets, street lighting, traffic controls, water, sewer, etc. As the Town of Fountain Hills cannot assess similar property taxes to pay for these services, it is obvious that a new income stream must be established. Increasing the town sales tax or introducing a new annual fee with questionable collection ratios is hardly a long-term solution.
In my home province of Manitoba, we have a provincial Land Transfer Tax. Each time real property valued in excess of $30,000 changes hands, the tax applies. The tax is assessed on a sliding scale from .5 percent all the way to 2 percent for any portion of a property sale exceeding $200,000. For example, a $300,000 home sale results in tax of $3,650. The tax, included in closing costs, is paid by the purchaser and remitted to the province by the purchaser’s lawyer. No exceptions!
Think of what a similar tax could generate for Fountain Hills if the town can lawfully assess it. Trulia.com indicates that there were 746 home sales in Fountain Hills in the past nine months. Imagine if the town could assess even a .5 percent Land Transfer Tax on these sales.