BUDGETS IN BRIEF: From mid-2011 through the end of 2012, ARIZONA spent only 6 percent of the $268 million it was allocated to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, despite having the nation's second highest foreclosure rate during much of the mortgage crisis. The state spent more than any other, however, in setting up its mortgage assistance program (AZCENTRAL.COM). • LOUISIANA's Legislative Auditor issued a report last week accusing the state tax commission of failing to provide sufficient oversight of residential property tax assessments. The commission categorically disagrees with the auditor's findings (TIMES-PICAYUNE [NEW ORLEANS]).
Hurricane Sandy-Stricken Shore Twons Avoid Big Tax Hikes - For Now
One of the many fears created by last year's Superstorm Sandy was that it would cause so much property damage in coastal towns of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut that they would have to impose huge tax increases on surviving structures to make up the difference. But thanks largely to the more than $60 billion in Sandy relief approved by Congress those tax hikes haven't been necessary. "We were all concerned there would be a big tax increase," said Ray Ryan, a resident of Mantoloking, New Jersey, where virtually every home was destroyed or damaged. "But we are delighted it didn't. It makes absolutely wonderful sense when you consider the storm aid that was available." The affluent borough actually adopted a 14.6 percent increase in its municipal tax rate. But because of the influx of storm recovery money and the lowering of property values due to the storm, most tax bills will end up being lower this year. "That's the good news: Taxes in 2013 will be lower," said Councilman Steve Gillingham. Things could be different next year, however, when the tide of storm aid recedes. As Gillingham noted, "because these are nonrecurring revenues, it may be hard in subsequent years to provide the same level of services." (ASSOCIATED PRESS, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER)
— Compiled by KOREY CLARK
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