September 29, 2009 · 1:57 PM
First, congratulations on your articles in the current edition regarding transportation. Rarely does a community paper take the time to do this kind of research. One could raise the question that with 30 years of apparently successful regional planning, how is it that transportation is considered the area’s number one problem? But that vexing issue is more complicated than health insurance!
But the reason for writing is to point out an inadvertently misleading lead in an article you wrote a few weeks ago about property tax assessment. You suggested that the lower assessment being distributed by the King County assessor would lead to lower taxes. We all wish for silver linings, but, alas, there are none, not here at least. While the assessment went down, we can expect the rates to go up commensurately. The rate is set by the city based on the revenue it needs, but within the caps imposed on the total revenue. So, if the total value of all assessed property went down by, say, 15 percent, then the rate will increase by 15 percent, plus perhaps one additional percent and the value of new construction. If you had the “good fortune” to see your assessment drop by more than the average, then you win! You get a lower tax bill. If someone else saw their assessment drop by less than average, then they will solder more of the cost.
You do note that the final bills are the result of the property tax rates set by the various taxing districts but I believe that you and perhaps some of your readers were led astray by the confusing language in the assessor office saying that assessments were down. That office knew that cities would need to raise the rates, and they should have been more forthright.