Island property values up 8 percent

After five years of sagging home and land values, assessed real property values across the county and on Mercer Island  appear to be in recovery mode.

According to the King County Assessors Office, county-wide property valuations are approaching pre-recession levels at $340.6 billion, (2008 total property value was $341 billion) up 7.6 percent overall from 2013 ($314.7 billion)

“Property values for King County have continued to show signs of strengthening as we emerge from the Great Recession,” said King County Assessor Lloyd Hara. “Of the 86 residential geographic areas in King County, we saw a residential valuation decrease only in 10 areas for the 2013 (tax) assessment year.”

For Mercer Island, the same is true. The 2012 median assessed value of Island property -  based on sales the previous year, was $711,000. In 2013 assessed value was based on data collected in 2012, or $771,000, an increase of 8.4 percent over the 2012 value.

For taxes paid in 2013, the tax rate for Mercer Island was $9.44 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The average tax payer last year paid $6,713. This year the rate is less; $9.13 per $1,000 of assessed value for an average tax bill of $7,041 — an average increase of 4.9 percent or about $328.  (Taxes for the present year are based on the previous year’s assessed value.)

On Mercer Island, taxpayers are paying for a Mercer Island School district maintenance and operations, a bond and a capital levy earlier approved by voters. (They do not include the recent bond and levy approved in the  Feb. 11 special election.) The city is collecting taxes for the general fund, parks, and for the new South-end fire station and a new truck.

Countywide, voters approved a six-year temporary lid lift for the renewal of the County Parks levy at a rate of $0.18 cents per $1,000 of all taxable assessed value that would generate $63 million in revenue, and a six-year renewal of the Emergency Medical services (EMS) levy at a rate of $0.335 cents or less per $1,000 of all taxable assessed value.

Washington State operates under a revenue or “budget-based” property tax system in which taxing districts, such as counties, cities, ports, and fire, library, and school districts submit their annual adopted budgets or revenue requests to the assessor. The assessor then determines the taxing rate that is necessary to generate enough revenue to meet the adopted budgets. The tax rates are based on the value of residential, commercial, and personal property in each county, which is established by the assessors. Washington voters in 2001 initially approved Initiative-747, which imposed a one percent cap on revenue per year unless voters approve additional levies and bonds.

State and local schools receive just over half of property tax revenue collected in King County. Cities and other local governments, such as fire districts and hospital districts, receive about 26 percent of the property tax collection (there are 161 local taxing districts in King County). King County government receives approximately 17.8 percent, and the Port of Seattle receives just under two percent of the property tax.

2014 property taxes are levied against assessed property valuations established the previous year. For example, the property tax bill for 2014 is based on values that were established as of January 1, 2013 (July 31, 2013 for remodels and new construction). Property values for 2014 are being established by King County Assessor’s Office appraisers right now and throughout this year, and will be used for the 2015 property tax bills.

Assessors will be conducting visual or on site appraisals this year on Mercer Island. The assessors office does visual inspections on a rotating basis throughout the county.

“Our goal is always to make sure our property valuations are accurate, fair, and equitable, so that each property owner pays only their fair share of property taxes – no more nor no less than they are required to by law,” Hara said.

In King County, Treasury Operations, not the Assessor, collects the property taxes on behalf of the state, cities, and taxing districts, and then distributes the revenue to the correct government.


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