News

Property tax boost smallest since 1998

By PAT JENKINS

Editor

The tax man cometh this month with some glad tidings.

Bills that will be mailed to landowners in February by the King County assessor show property taxes are 4.1 percent higher overall than last year, but that’s the lowest overall increase since 1998.

Increases were 4.9 percent in 2003 and 5.3 percent in 2002.

Property tax levies approved previously by voters and in effect this year are up 6.5 percent over last year, while non-voted taxes increased by 2.6, according to Assessor Scott Noble. Total property taxes for all purposes will total $2.5 billion in 2004, up from 2003’s $2.4 billion.

“The increasing reliance on voted property taxes is a trend” that probably will continue, Noble said.

But the good-news part of that is the decreased assessment this year in most school districts, including Federal Way, where the average for homeowners is dropping $44 to $2,621. Two Federal Way Public Schools levies that were decided in an election yesterday won’t, if they passed, increase property tax rates, officials said.

Another local levy, this one for the Federal Way Fire Department, was approved last year by voters and is expected to be submitted to them again this fall.

More good news for taxpayers: Noble said changes in the assessed valuation of property resulted in a 4.6 percent increase of the county’s tax base for 2004 tax distributions. The figure was 6.6 percent in 2003). Levy rates per $1,000 of assessed value have generally dropped countywide, he reported, partly because relatively few tax measures were on the ballot last year.

Also affecting current tax rates is Initiative 747. Approved statewide by voters, it prohibits taxing districts from increasing non-voted property taxes above inflation. It also limits tax growth to 1 percent over the previous highest levy.

Noble said an important point is that increases in assessed value of property don’t necessarily raise taxes. Only taxing districts and voters can set tax rates.

More information on assessments and tax rolls is available at www.metrokc.gov/assessor/

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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