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King County property taxes to rise 6.16 percent overall
Property taxes are set to rise 6.16 percent overall in King County this year, largely due to voter-approved increases that run the gamut from improvements to Seattle's Pike Place Market to school bonds in Bellevue and Renton and parks maintenance throughout the region.
Seattle Times business reporter
THE BIGGEST HITS
The areas with highest average increase in property taxes for 2009:
Property taxes on King County homeowners will increase 6.16 percent overall in 2009, due in large part to voter-approved increases to pay for everything from improvements to Seattle's Pike Place Market to school bonds in Bellevue and Renton and parks maintenance throughout the region.
Voters approved 23 of 30 property-tax measures last year, Assessor Scott Noble reported Thursday, and overall will see their taxes climb in every school district save for Snoqualmie Valley and Tukwila.
The highest average increase is in the Renton School District (13 percent), followed by Skykomish (12.1 percent) and Shoreline (11.4 percent). Voters in Bellevue, Seattle and Mercer Island approved higher taxes to fund parks development, improvement and maintenance.
An average Seattle home, assessed at $530,800, will be taxed at $7.97 per $1,000 of assessed value for a total $4,230, up 1.7 percent from a year earlier.
For Renton homeowners, an average home, assessed at $365,600, will be taxed at $9.95 per $1,000 of assessed value, for a total of $3,638.
In King County, the costs of state and local government determine how much property tax will be levied. These include operating costs of schools, city and county government and other taxing districts such as the Port of Seattle, library, hospital, fire and sewer districts.
A large chunk of each property-tax dollar goes to pay off bonds for such capital costs as school buildings and other public projects.
With 160 taxing districts and 571 levy rates, tax bills can vary even between homes of similar value across the street from each other, said Rich Medved, chief deputy to the assessor.
Property rates are based on assessed home values from the previous January, in this case January 2008. Nonetheless, news of higher taxes disappointed some homeowners who hoped they'd see relief after watching home prices plummet throughout last year.
Altan Turel has owned his home in unincorporated King County near Renton since 1977. He has appealed its assessed value for the first time, after it jumped from $261,000 in 2007 to $302,000 last year.
Neighboring homes in his 250-house development are selling for far less when they sell at all, he said.
"There were telltale signs of the market going down, but the assessed values did not reflect the true market value of these houses," he said.
About 12,000 other property taxpayers also appealed their home valuations last year, up from 3,500 in 2007. "It caused some confusion last year; it caused some heartburn," Medved said.
Valuations this year will reflect the market's softening in 2008, he said.
However, there's still no correlation between property value and tax bills, Medved said.
"It's very conceivable that you could have your property value go down and your tax bill stay the same or go up," he said, "because it's dependent on the budgets that determined what the tax bill is that needs to be collected."
Medved encouraged taxpayers with questions to visit the assessor Web site at www.kingcounty.gov/Assessor.aspx or call 206-296-7300.
Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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