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Property taxes are up 4 percent

The Mirror

There will be something extra in property tax statements when they’re mailed to landowners in King County this month.

The taxes are up overall 4.16 percent over last year, according to Assessor Scott Noble. But it’s about the same as the increases of 4.1 percent last year and 4.9 percent in 2003.

Countywide, 46 percent of voted property tax measures last year –– factors in tax rates –– were lid lifts authorizing taxing districts to go over the 1 percent limit on annual increases. Fourteen of the 18 measures, including one for Federal Way Fire Department, were approved. of which 14 out of the 18 measures passed in 2004. As a result, property tax increases authorized by voters are up by 4.4 percent over last year, while non-voted taxes increased by 3.6 percent, Noble said.

Total property taxes for all purposes countywide will total $2.6 billion in 2005, up $107 million over 2004.

“The increasing reliance on voted property taxes by taxing districts is a continuing trend and is accelerating,” Noble said.

He said assessed value changes resulted in 5.5 percent growth in King County’s tax base for 2005 tax distribution purposes, compared to 4.6 percent in 2004. Levy distribution rates per $1,000 of assessed value have continued to drop throughout the county.

Valuation appeals number approximately 5,300 (less than 1% of properties appraised), a 30% reduction from last year, Noble reported.

Key factors in the county’s 2005 property tax picture include:

• Continued support by voters for tax increases. Voters approved 31 of 40 property tax measures in 2004 countywide. School measures were particularly supported, Noble said. Levies in eight school districts, including Federal Way, were passed.

Voters in Federal Way also helped pass King County Library District’s $170 million bond for library improvements. The district won’t begin levying for those dollars until 2006.

• Effects of Initiative 747 on non-voted taxes. I-747 removed the ability of taxing districts to increase non-voted property taxes above inflation, and limited tax growth to 1% over the prior highest allowable levy (not necessarily the previous year).

Other taxing entities include the Port of Seattle and emergency medical services (countywide).

Noble noted increases in assessed value don’t necessarily equate to tax increases.

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