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Tucson Weekly Rock Ranch

He may be a tad secretive, but Sir Paul pays his county taxes more generously than many real-estate big shots.

By Chris Limberis

MAY 26, 1998:  THE McCARTNEYS OF Redington Road led a fairly gracious life in Tucson. They were unpretentious, by most accounts. They rode their horses. They hung out. They shopped at the right bookstores but were not above dashing into a Circle K. They ate good pizza, Tino's. They were good neighbors even when they bought out their neighbors. They were quiet.

The man who helped them live quietly, and one who helped Linda die, for a time secretly, was no John Doe. He is Tucson lawyer Leonard Scheff.

Scheff also did his part in helping Paul and Linda McCartney assemble their Redington Road ranch. We watched the media flock to the ranch last month after it was learned that Linda died there and not in Santa Barbara, where California law would have required her death certificate to be public. Again and again we heard how the McCartneys had a 150-acre ranch east of Tucson.

We wondered when it shrunk.

For insulation, the McCartneys quickly bought up land around their ranch. It now contains nearly 710 acres. For city dwellers, that's 27 times larger than Himmel Park.

The McCartneys built the ranch through several companies: MPL Communications, Inc., MPL Corp.; Maypole Corp.; and North Fork Investment Co.

Obviously megarich, the McCartneys have been better than mediocre when it comes to property taxes. The family's Redington spread is on the tax rolls for $3.9 million. Most of it, 700.6 acres, is on at $5,000 an acre. Acre lots out that way can go for $15,000, $20,000 and $25,000. The discounted value this year means a tax bill of about $69,500, according to records at the Pima County Treasurer's Office. The bill could have been three to five times higher, but this was no exclusive break. The McCartneys did only what the owners of at least 11,000 other parcels in Pima County do--appeal property values assigned by the Assessor's Office.

At the same time, the McCartneys must be commended. They are not dodging taxes like Microsoft's Bill Gates wanted to do with the sham deal at the old IBM plant on South Rita Road. Nor did they seek the $500-an-acre value they could have achieved by placing a couple of cows on the ranch and claiming agriculture status, as so many phony land speculators do here.

Apparently, Linda McCartney's vegetarianism and animal-rights activism made the family a little more responsible, even with their taxes.

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