Aberdeen article misleading

Third quarter sales for Pacific County:

• 302 qualified sales

• 186 sold for more than assessed value

• 116 sold for less than assessed value

• The median sales price was 93% of the assessed value

An article in the Tue. Nov. 11 issue of the Aberdeen Daily World stated that the county commissioners of Pacific County and Grays Harbor County had voted to raise property taxes 1%. This is very misleading since the commissioners do not have the power to raise taxes. The commissioners and the elected officials of all the taxing districts (cities, fire, hospital, etc.) are at this time of year voting to approve the budgets for 2004. I-747 limited the amount that these budgets could be raised per year to 1%. Prior to I-747 the maximum increase was 6% per year. The article would lead readers to assume that the county commissioners raised the combined tax rate 1% when all they could legally do was approve a budget increase of 1% for the county's portion of property taxes.

Let's take a look at how the levy process works. The budget submitted to the county assessor by a taxing district is called the levy. The levy rate is the budget divided by the total assessed value of the taxing district. As an example let's use fictional Fire District 13. Last years budget was $50,000 and the total assessed value for the area of Dist. 13 (not the entire county just the area covered by Dist. 13) is $100,000,000; $50,000 divided by $100,000,000 is a tax rate of $.50 per one thousand dollars of assessed value. The owner of a $100,000 dollar house would pay to Dist. 13 $50.00 for 2003 taxes. It is now Nov ember 2003 and the commissioners of Dist. 13 are meeting to approve the 2004 budget. If everything else stays the same (and in the real world it doesn't since this example doesn't figure in the effects of new construction or programs such as Senior citizen, farm and ag, or timber) the most that the commissioners could levy would be $50,500 (1% of $50,000 is $500) and the owner of a house valued at $100,000 would pay $50.50 to Dist 13.

The maximum amount by law that a person may pay for local taxes (county, city, hospital, fire, library etc.) is $5.90 of which only $4.05 per thousand can be levied by the county ($1.80 maximum for general expense[criminal justice, elections, administration etc] and $2.25 maximum for county roads, last year in Pacific County the actual total was $3.69: $1.80 current expense and $1.89 for county roads) so to say that the county commissioners raised property taxes by 1% is very misleading. The state also levies property taxes for state schools but the total amount levied by local districts (the $5.90) and state schools cannot exceed $10.00 per one thousand dollars of assessed value. For example in 2003, since I live in Raymond, I paid $1.80 per thousand to the county, $3.34 per thousand to the City of Raymond and $0.75 to Hospital District 2 for a total of $5.89 per thousand. I also paid $2.88 in state school taxes and $0.50 per thousand for EMS. I paid a total of $17.99 per thousand in total taxes, $8.79 per thousand of which were voted on by the people. These include the new schools in Raymond, the school M&O levy and the hospital bond.

If you have any further questions about levies or other matters concerning the Assessors Office, call me at 875-9301.

I mentioned to a friend of mine that since becoming the Assessor I hadn't received many invitations to go to people's houses since they must think that I am assessing their property and he reminded me that I didn't get many invitations before I took office so I am looking forward to your calls.

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