Federal Way in the middle of tax pack



Homeowners in Federal Way can expect a medium-range property tax increase when their 2003 tax statements arrive in the mail this month.

Based on assessments for houses valued at $193,000 in 2002 and $206,000 this year, the average property tax for a single-family residence here will increase by $154 to a total of $2,556, according to the King County assessor.

The 6.4 percent average increase in Federal Way is about in the middle compared to other cities in the county. They range from Des Moines at 17.2 percent to Kenmore at 2.2 percent. Bellevue, Seattle and Kent are at 7.6, 7.5 and 5.3 percent, respectively.

Property taxes countywide are up an overall 4.9 percent over last year, said assessor Scott Noble. That’s the smallest increase in three years. The overall increases were 5.3 percent in 2002 and 6.3 percent in 2001.

Countywide, a record number of property tax measures were approved by voters last year (57 out of 73), including lid-lift proposals such as the one in Federal Way Fire Department/Fire District 39. Lid-lifters allow junior taxing districts to exceed the 1 percent-per-year limit on tax increases set by a statewide initiative (I-747) passed in 2001.

Voters in nearly all school districts in the county, including Federal Way Public Schools, passed new school levies last year. The Federal Way levy this year, the last for the two-year measure, will increase an average of 9.2 percent for homes within the district. The district is planning a new levy in 2004.

School districts with higher average levy rate increases than Federal Way this year include Highline (14.9 percent), Shoreline (13.7 percent) and Mercer Island (12 percent). Some of the smallest tax increases by school districts are in Enumclaw and Riverview, both up less than 1 percent.

Noble predicted governments’ “increasing reliance” on voter-approved property taxes will continue.

In Federal Way, the biggest tax bite is for education. For an approximately $200,000 home, state and local assessments for schools total about $1,400, which is more than half of the home’s total tax bill.

Other entities getting a share of Federal Way homeowners’ property tax payments are the fire district, the city, the county, the regional library system and the Port of Seattle.

Tax bills will be mailed in February.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 925-5565 and

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