Plunging Property Taxes Bleed Government Coffers

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2009 4:17 PM CDT
An abandoned house rests next to a well kept home.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – From New York and Los Angeles to devastated Rust Belt towns, falling home prices are leaving local governments in a pinch, the New York Times reports. Desperate for extra cash, homeowners are petitioning assessors in droves to lower their property taxes and match property values. “It’s worthy of a Dickens story,” a county assessor says. “These people are desperate."

About one in 10 large counties are balancing books by raising rates, but municipalities nationwide are slashing services, freezing wages, and laying off workers. Government workers, meanwhile, are swamped with reassessment claims. “We’ve been absolutely getting killed,” said a New Jersey mayor. One out-of-work homeowner, who has seen her home value cut in half, feels equally pinched: "It’s a terrible way to lose your home," she says, "just over taxes.”