Is one Phoenix valley city more expensive to live than another?

When someone is relocating to Arizona, I liken it to drinking out of a firehose.  There is so much information, both qualitative and quantitative, to digest (or swallow) that it is an overwhelming task.   Many future home buyers want to know about property tax differences between cities. But nobody ever asks about the difference between the overall tax burden including utilities.  The Arizona Republic published an article on April 4, 2010 that attempts to compare the cumulative effect of taxes and fees for some of the major Phoenix valley cities.

  City Property      
Municipality Tax Rate  * Sales tax** Garbage Water *** Sewer Total
Gilbert $1.15  ($234) 1.5% (7.8%) $17.30 $31.13 $24.93 $1,646
Chandler $1.18  ($233) 1.5% (7.8%) $15.07 $32.56 $19.97 $1,650
Tempe $1.40  ($274) 1.8% (8.1%) $19.98 $30.29 $23.68 $1,799
Mesa $0.30 ($61) 1.75% (8.05%) $23.88 $52.48 $30.19 $1,862
Scottsdale $0.74 ($143) 1.65% (7.95%) $15.89 $51.81 $39.11 $2,007
Surprise $0.57 (80) 2.2% (8.5%) $16.63 $51.14 $24.78 $2,041
Peoria $1.44 ($289) 1.8% (8.1%) $15.06 $40.87 $24.56 $2,092
Phoenix $1.82 ($353) 2% (8.3%) $26.85 $40.96 $31.53 $2,208
Glendale $1.60 ($319) 2.2% (8.5%) $16.30 $40.94 $37.79 $2,310
Avondale $1.11 ( $283) 2.5% (8.8%) $19.00 $42.05 $44.29 $2,422
* Combined annual municipal primary and secondary taxes per $100 assessed value for a $250,000 home.** Sales tax for individual municipality. % in parentheses is the combined city and state tax.
*** Based on 15,000 gallons per month usage.

For cities or towns that are not listed above, this information will provide a baseline to compare their fees and taxes.

Local residences brace for more possible tax increases

As Arizona struggles with its budget, politicians have turned toward tax increases to help alleviate the shortfall.  The 6.3%  state sales tax that is added to the individual city taxes would increase to 6.6%, pushing many cities to a combined sales tax near 9%.  Besides state wide Proposition 100 that will be decided on May 18th, 2010, some  individual cities such as Gilbert and Tempe are  considering additional local sale tax hikes.

Since the transition from town to town can take place almost un-noticed, it is a good idea to be aware of the how much the local government will be expecting you to contribute via taxes and utilities.  One advantage that would be residents of any city have is that utilities bills are public record, so a quick call can reveal the annual payments for any residential address.