Long Beach’s general fund will likely see growth in its largest source of income this year, property taxes, after the Los Angeles County Assessor’s latest update to the property tax rolls.
Assessor Jeff Prang recently closed out the rolls for 2023 (the county’s fiscal year runs June 30 to July 1), and he announced this week that Long Beach’s total assessed value–the value of all properties in the city—rose by 6.8% since 2022, reaching $74.8 billion.
Properties are taxed based on their assessed value, with the tax money going to the county, cities, school districts and other agencies that serve the public.
In Long Beach’s last fiscal year, the city estimated it would receive about $221 million from property taxes. That constituted more than 30% of revenue to the general fund, which pays for basic services such as police, parks and street paving.
Other than dips in 2009 and 2010 related to the housing crash, the city’s total valuation has trended steadily upward for nearly two decades, according to data provided by the assessor’s office. Long Beach’s property value growth from 2022 to 2023 saw its largest year-over-year increase since 2008, and it beat the county’s overall 5.9% growth as well as the cities of Bellflower (up 5.4%), Lakewood (up 4.8%) and Signal Hill (up 6.7%).
Thanks to Proposition 13, any increases to California property owners’ taxes are capped at 2% a year, regardless of what happens in the larger market. But values get reassessed when properties are sold–the biggest driver of the growth in Long Beach and other cities, Prang said–and when new construction is completed.
“The increase in value is good for people who own property, it’s good for local governments and schools,” Prang said. “But it does not help the unaffordability quotient that we have here in Southern California.”
“It’s definitely good news” for the city, Acting Budget Manager Geraldine Alejo said, although she remained cautious because the amount of revenue the city gets from property taxes is also affected by fluctuations in one-time supplemental fees or delinquent payments, and how much must go to pay former redevelopment agency obligations.
However, she said, “higher growth (in the valuation) definitely indicates the city is doing well.”
The city’s fiscal 2024 budget anticipates about 5% growth in property tax revenues, and Alejo said seeing that number tick upward is even more important as oil revenues continue to dry up.
Both Prang and Alejo said it’s a challenge to predict future property tax activity because the data they have is backward-looking and there’s lag time between when annual assessments are done, when tax bills are sent, and when the payments are due. However, Prang said he’s forecasting continued growth, though less than the county and many cities saw this year.