Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Created: 08/23/2011 05:51:36 PM PDT

Los Angeles County’s overall property tax roll climbed for the first time in two years in 2010-11, but San Bernardino County has yet to see overall property values climb since the recession.

In Los Angeles County, overall assessed property values rose 1.49 percent to nearly $1.06 trillion for 2010-11, according to recent data from the Assessor’s Office.

San Bernardino County’s tax rolls fell 0.87 percent to more than $161 billion. The county’s property roll has fallen for three straight years, but the rate of decline has slowed over that time.

In some San Bernardino County cities, however, the tax rolls’ values have risen.

In those locales, most of which are on the West End, a richer property tax base can help put an end to the budget cutting that many local governments enacted during the lean years after the housing bust.

“I think this is the beginning of the return to stability,” Montclair City Manager Edward Starr said.

Montclair had no layoffs during the recession, but instituted a hiring freeze that resulted in the city payroll shrinking from 216 to 193 employees, Starr said.

The city’s property tax roll increased 0.3 percent to $2.5 billion in 2010-11, according to the San Bernardino County Assessor.

Montclair’s City Council balanced its budget without having to make any cuts to payroll or services this fiscal year, Starr said. He is optimistic that condominium developments and potential improvements at Montclair Plaza could make the city’s land more valuable.

In addition to Montclair, the San Bernardino County cities of Chino, Chino Hills, Loma Linda, Twentynine Palms and Upland all saw their property tax rolls increase in value in 2010-11.

To the west, the Los Angeles County cities with higher property tax roll values included Claremont, Diamond Bar, La Verne and San Dimas.

Claremont’s property tax roll has increased in value for two straight years, City Manager Jeff Parker said. For 2010-11, the city’s roll increased 2.2 percent to about $3.7 billion.

As in Montclair, the healthier property and sales tax revenues have allowed a pause to the recessionary budget cutting that led Claremont to reduce its payroll from 180 to 147 people.

“As long as our property is showing some growth it certainly helps our budget position,” Parker said.

In neighboring Pomona, assessed property values fell, but only by 0.1 percent.

Property tax rolls show the total value of assessed real estate within a jurisdiction. New construction, property improvements and real estate sales can increase property rolls’ value.

Values can decline, however, when real estate values dip because state law allows homeowners to ask for lower tax assessments when market values fall.

San Bernardino County officials removed $4.6 billion in property values from the tax rolls over 2010-11 because of that provision, according to Assessor Dennis Draeger’s office.

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