Overcharged taxpayers to see reduction in next bill

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PHOENIX - A 75% tax increase is what brought 3 On Your Side to the Roosevelt School District months ago after homeowner Mike Davis wrote us, outraged his yearly property tax bill had unexpectedly shot up by about $1,400.

“I think it is unconscionable to, even in good times, to have an increase like that let alone in times like this,” Davis said.

We asked school superintendent Mary Bedya whether a scathing state audit released in early October had anything to do with the tax increase.

The audit, which is under appeal, found the district was overpaid nearly a million dollars by the state.

“The audit has cost taxpayers zero dollars at this time,” Beyda explained.

In late October, Beyda told 3 On Your Side the increase stemmed from a state funding shortfall, adding once the district received the $13 million it was waiting on, some taxpayers would get a refund.

The money was expected in early November, and we're told the funds did arrive.

Beyda has since sent out a newsletter alerting residents to tax relief.

She's also submitted a letter to the Maricopa County Finance Manager, requesting tax bills be amended.

Maricopa County Treasurer Charles Hoskins says his office is working to determine how much money is owed to whom, but that it's not an easy task.

He says of the estimated 40,000 property owners who overpaid taxes, only the 3,200 or so who paid in full will actually see a refund.

The remainder will simply see a reduction in their next bill.

“We will apply the overpayment of the first half to the second half payment,” Hoskins said.

And as with the increase itself, the county's estimated cost to correct the problem is up there.

“So it could be as much as $400,000, a half million dollars, cost, to the other taxpayers in the county to fix this error,” Hoskins explained.

It's unclear whether the district will ultimately have to foot the bill.

But they should, according to homeowner Mike Davis, who still questions whether he'll realistically be enjoying lower taxes anytime soon.

“This is a wake-up call that our money is not being spent appropriately,” Davis said.

Related links:

To read the state audit, click here: http://www.ade.az.gov/Busfin/audit/Roosevelt-FINAL-SIGNED.pdf