The total value of assessed property in Calaveras County continued to fall this year, though at a slower rate than the year prior.
Figures released by County Assessor Leslie Davis this week placed the gross secured property tax roll at $5.46 billion in 2012, a 4.37 percent drop from 2011.
The drop is less than the 5.08 percent lost between 2010 and 2011.
Assessor’s Office staff reviewed almost 33,500 parcels and 19,574 showed a decline in value from 2011 to 2012.
Davis gave a conservative and rough prediction of a 7 percent drop as county department budgets were prepared in the spring, advising special districts to plan for a 10 percent decrease. She said similar advice last year proved wise as Copperopolis Fire Protection District came in just a hair below 10 percent in decreased values.
She said she has not yet calculated the drops specific to each district but will do so within this month. The hardest hit in the initial years after the housing bubble burst were western areas of the county. Now eastern reaches of the Highway 4 corridor are taking the biggest lumps.
Comparisons have often been made between Calaveras and neighboring foothill counties of Tuolumne and Amador. Again this year the drop in Calaveras outpaced its neighbors, with a 2.17 percent drop in Tuolumne and about 1.9 percent lost in Amador.
The assessed value in Tuolumne County for 2012 stood at $5.9 billion for 2012, according to figures from Assessor Ken Caetano.
Davis said she understands the temptation to look at how Calaveras stacks up against counties to its north and south. She cautions that it should not be viewed as a simple apples-to-apples comparison.
Neither county is as close in drive time to Stockton or Modesto from the west end and so Calaveras’ population of commuters to the Central Valley is a unique factor, Davis said.
“We also don’t have the same commercial base, which kind of protects them a little bit,” she said.
County seats Sonora and Jackson serve as geographic, population and commercial centers that Calaveras lacks.
Davis said she hesitates to make any predictions but notes the fall election and an economy that either stabilizes or falters can have an impact before assessments of values on Jan. 1, 2013, are compiled for next year.
“It would certainly be everybody’s hope that the economy turns around,” she said. “It’s really hard to tell what will happen between now and then.”