Property values set for the purposes of collecting taxes will decline in 14 of Contra Costa County's 19 cities this fiscal year as a stubborn recession continues to hit local government budgets.
"The market is bouncing around on the bottom trying to recover," said county Assessor Gus Kramer. "That's what we are seeing in most areas of the county. In every recession we have had in this country since 1946, we have seen this type of pattern."
It wasn't all bad news.
Countywide, the combined assessed property value rose to $141.2 billion, up from $140 billion last fiscal year, according Kramer's annual report of the property tax assessment roll released Monday. Property owners' tax bills are based on a percentage of assessed value.
Richmond's roll value spiked 16.7 percent, an anomaly Kramer attributed to Chevron's failed property tax appeal.
An appeals board raised the Richmond refinery's fair market value to $3.7 billion, $4.4 billion and $3.8 billion for 2007, 2008 and 2009. The trend is reflected in the assessor's 2012-2013 calculations.
Danville and Lamorinda saw slight improvements. San Ramon edged downward by just a fraction.
Every other city will again receive less property tax money this fiscal year than it did the year before. Most anticipated the declines although some will see larger hits than expected.
Hercules, whose voters approved a sales tax hike in June to help the city's budget, tops the list with a 5.9 percent drop.
Other cities and their reductions include: Antioch, 1 percent; Concord, 4.6 percent; Martinez, 1.5 percent; Pinole, 3.41 percent; Pittsburg, 0.9 percent; Walnut Creek, 0.7 percent; Brentwood, 2.1 percent; San Pablo, 2 percent; Pleasant Hill, 2.3 percent; Clayton, 4 percent; Oakley, 0.65 percent.
Some city leaders are relieved it wasn't worse. After losses each of the past three years, Antioch had braced itself for another 2 percent cut. Instead, the number fell by only half that amount.
"It represents what we've been hearing anecdotally, that property values are starting to turn back upward," said City Manager Jim Jakel. "I think it shows that the worst is over, but we still have a long ways to go."
Reporters Tom Lochner and Paul Burgarino contributed to this report.