Bocce ball courts and barbecues at the Braydon Apartment complex in Napa. (copy)

The assessed value of Napa County properties rose a record $2.6 billion to a record-total of $41.9 billion last year. This is a photo of the Braydon apartment under construction in south Napa, west of Soscol Avenue. 

Napa County’s 2019-20 assessment roll – the assessed value of all of the homes, hotels, wineries, land and other taxable properties—rose a record $2.6 billion to a record-total of $41.9 billion.

“That’s our first time over $40 billion,” Assessor John Tuteur said on Tuesday.

But then, Napa County was one of the few California counties that eked out growth even during the Great Recession. Tuteur said the last time the assessment roll value fell was in 1978 amid Proposition 13 restructuring.

“That was all because of Proposition 13,” Tuteur said. “It had nothing to do with the real estate market.”

For Napa County, the question for four decades hasn’t been whether the roll’s value grew, but by how much. The answer this year is by 6.6 percent, though that isn’t a record, given double-digit increases just before the recession. A higher assessment roll total means more tax money for local government services.

The assessment roll doesn’t reflect the market value for all local properties. Rather, it is a tally of assessments to be used for determining property taxes.

Under Proposition 13, properties that don’t change hands have yearly assessment inflationary increases capped at 2 percent. What Tuteur called the “2-percent bump” added $640 million to this year’s roll.

Non-residential new construction added $402 million, the biggest increase in 29 years, according to the Assessor’s Division.

Upward adjustment of properties that had seen their market values fall below their assessed values added $90 million. In 2012, 9.5 percent of the assessment roll was in decline-in-value status, compared to less than 1 percent today.

The rest of the 6.6-percent increase came from changes of ownership that reset older Proposition 13 base-year values and from new residences.

Napa County’s roll value could have been even higher if not for the 2017 wildfires that incinerated more than 600 homes. Tuteur said the fires dropped $500 million from the roll and few of these homes have been rebuilt.

Napa County in 1978 had an assessment roll of $1.85 billion. This increased to $10.4 billion by 1998 and $27.9 billion by 2012 on the steady climb through the decades to this year’s record, records show.

The county’s assessment roll value has doubled since 2005, Tuteur said.

Of course, Napa County’s record $41 billion assessment roll can’t compete with California’s biggest, urban counties. For example, the 2019-20 roll value for Los Angeles County is $1.6 trillion, a record for that county, statistics show.

However, there is another way to look at things. Tuteur said Napa County’s per-capita assessed value is fourth among California’s 58 counties, behind San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties.

Assessed values for local jurisdictions are:

- City of Napa, $13.3 billion, a 6.9-percent increase.

- American Canyon, $3.3 billion, a 6.9-percent increase.

- Yountville, $1 billion, a 6.6-percent increase.

- St. Helena, $2.7 billion, a 6.2-percent increase.

- Calistoga, $1.2 billion, a 14.7-percent increase.

- Unincorporated Napa County, $20.3 billion, a 6-percent increase.

“For the ninth year in a row, our certified appraisers reviewed every condo and single-family residence on less than five acres throughout Napa County, which meant that residential owners receive fair values that reflect market conditions as of Jan. 1, 2019,” Tuteur said in a press release.

The county also reviewed commercial and industrial properties where owners supplied current income and expense information.

More than 9,000 online value notices are available for decline-in-value status properties, properties with business and farm equipment assessments, agricultural properties under Williamson Act contracts and properties that had construction in progress in 2018.

Go to https://bit.ly/2InH1eo to search by either assessor parcel number or property address.

“I encourage property owners to compare their 2019-20 value notices to their 2018-19 property tax bills to understand the nature of the change,” Tuteur said.

People with questions about the values shown can receive an informal review prior to Nov. 15. Contact the Assessor’s Office at john.tuteur@countyofnapa.org or 253-4459.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.