Property taxes see small increase on Vashon

Islanders’ tax bill, on average, will increase by approximately $99 over last year.

Property taxes are going up, on average, about 2 percent on Vashon-Maury Islands this year, according to the King County Assessor’s Office, which began sending out tax bills last week.

County-wide, property taxes will drop by an average of 1 percent compared to last year, going down in about half the cities and unincorporated areas of King County, while going up slightly in the other half.

County statistics show that this year the median assessed value of a home on Vashon is $508,000; the tax rate is $11.16 per $1,000 of assessed value, and the tax bill is approximately $5,672.

In 2018, the median assessed value of homes on Vashon was $451,000; the tax rate was $12.36 per $1,000 of assessed value, and the median tax bill was approximately $5,572.

This change equates to a 12.6 percent increase in assessed value this year and a 9.6 decrease in the average tax rate. Islanders’ tax bill, on average, will increase by approximately $99 over last year — or nearly 2 percent, assessor’s office information shows.

This slight increase is a change from recent years, when taxes rose dramatically in much of the county. On Vashon in 2013, the median assessed home value was $291,000 with taxes of $3,877. In 2016, the median assessed home value was $370,000 with taxes of $4,482. In 2017, median value was $387,000 with taxes of $4,500.

The assessor’s office attributes the relatively small change in tax bills this year primarily due to a reduction in the property taxes collected for school districts as part of the state legislature’s “levy swap” plan to fund K-12 education.

Under that plan, a new statewide property tax was added last year to increase funding for schools, while local levies remained in place, causing a sharp spike in property taxes. This year, under that plan, local levies will decrease, and will then reset in the future. What this means for taxpayers in general in 2019 is some will see a slight decrease in taxes, while others will see a slight increase.

Also contributing to the small increase is a one-time property tax cut the Legislature approved last year to reduce people’s property taxes by about 30 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

“Property tax policy remains in a state of flux,” said King County Assessor John Wilson in a recent press release. “It’s important to remember changes in the law, or approval of special levies, have much more impact on changes to your tax bill than does the changing value of your property.”

In that vein, Vashon is expected to vote on the Vashon Park District levy this April, at 52 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. In the not-distant future, islanders may also vote on the creation of a hospital district — a tax to support health care services on the island — though an attempt to create such a district has not been officially announced. Additionally, Fire Chief Charlie Krimmert said in a recent Voice of Vashon radio program that the fire district may ask islanders to vote on a bond to restore or build fire stations.

King County collects property taxes on behalf of the state, the county, cities, and taxing districts (such as school and fire districts) and distributes the revenue to these local governments.

About 55 percent of property tax revenues collected in King County in 2019 pays for schools. Property taxes also fund voter-approved measures for veterans and seniors, fire protection and parks. King County receives about 18 percent of property tax payment for roads, police, criminal justice, public health, elections and parks, among other services, the recent press release stated.

Property taxes vary depending upon location, the assessed value of the property, and the number of jurisdictions levying taxes (such as state, city, county, school district, port, fire district, etc).

Aggregate property tax collections in King County for the 2019 tax year will be $5.6 billion, a decrease of about 1 percent from the 2018 collection of $5.7 billion. Aggregate property value in King County increased by more than 13 percent from the previous year, going from $534.7 billion to $606.6 billion.

Low-income seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners may qualify for a property-tax exemption offered by King County. Information on how to apply for an exemption, along with other property-assessment-related information, can be found at kingcounty.gov/assessor.

Property owners can find tax levy rates and more property related information by visiting the eReal Property Search on the King County Assessor’s website or by calling 206-296-7300.

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