Property taxes up 4 percent

The average Vashon property owner will see his or her property taxes increase by nearly 4 percent this year, from an average tax bill of $4,166 to an average bill of $4,328, according to the King County Assessor’s Office.

Vashon’s levy rate — which includes the Vashon Park District, the Vashon Island School District, Vashon Island Fire & Rescue, Medic One and other taxing districts — will be $8.52 per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value this year, said Hazel Gantz, the budget and finance officer for the Assessor’s Office.

Last year’s tax rate was higher — $9.01 — but because Vashon’s homes have gone up in value this year over last, property owners will see their tax bills, on average, climb, she said.

The average home value in 2008 was $462,300. This year, the average value is $508,000.

Property taxes have gone up, she added, because all the taxing districts opted to increase their levies by 1 percent, which they can do without a public vote. Tax bills will be mailed later this month.

Hilary Emmer, an Island activist who has taken the lead in opposing the Vashon school district’s proposed school bond measure, said the higher tax bills Islanders will face this year underscore her contention that Vashon property owners can’t afford the school district’s proposal.

Were it to pass, the $75.5 million measure will add about $1.91 to the Island’s tax rate next year.

“We have people who are foreclosing and people who are just sweating it, and I think that’s a problem,” she said. “I think it’s the wrong time for this bond. ... This Island is hurting, just like everyone else.”

School board chair Bob Hennessey, however, said voters will need to come to terms with Vashon High School’s deteriorating condition at some point, and construction costs are only going to climb.

“The problem will remain, and it will be significantly more expensive to fix the long-er we wait,” he said.

Countywide, property taxes will go up 6.16 percent this year, Gantz reported. The situation varies widely across the county — with a few communities, such as Tukwila and Snoqualmie Valley, seeing a drop in property taxes, with others, such as Mercer Island, Renton, Skykomish and Shoreline, seeing double-digit jumps in their tax bills.

Vashon’s average tax bill is 10th out of the county’s 20 school districts. The Island’s assessed value ranks seventh out of 20.

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