Property values in Clark County fall 13.7%

Statewide average 8%, but tax revenue increases 

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Property taxes due Nov. 1

Clark County Treasurer Doug Lasher said Wednesday that 155,000 second-half property statements have been mailed. Property statements include property tax levy amounts, lighting assessments and clean water fees. Taxpayers whose taxes and assessments are not paid through a mortgage company and have not received their statement by Oct. 8 should visit http://www.clark.wa.gov/treasurer or call 360-397-2252. Taxpayers are responsible for paying their second-half property taxes by Nov. 1 to avoid interest and penalties. Payments may be made online or by phone but are subject to processing fees that are paid to a vendor.

Clark County’s assessed property values led a statewide decline in a report issued Wednesday by the Department of Revenue.

But new construction and voter-approved levies combined to drive property tax revenue up statewide.

The assessed values, which are based on what the property was worth as of Jan. 1, 2009, provided a basis for this year’s property taxes.

In Clark County, assessed values of existing properties (not counting new construction), dropped 13.7 percent.

On Clark County’s heels was King County, where values declined by 13 percent. Kitsap, Snohomish and Skagit counties also saw values decline.

Clark County Assessor Linda Franklin said it makes sense counties on the west side of the state saw the biggest declines.

The eastern counties “didn’t have the big growth we had here, and they aren’t having the big declines,” Franklin said. “When the economy is normalizing property values, all of that comes out. “

While assessed values statewide declined an average of 8 percent, property tax revenue statewide increased 2.1 percent to $8.8 billion.

That 2.1 percent increase translates into $181.6 million in additional revenue.

Approximately $52 million can be attributed to new construction that added to the tax rolls, while $99.2 million stemmed from voter-approved levies.

On average statewide, a residential property tax bill dropped by $26, said Mike Gowrylow, spokesman for the Department of Revenue.

Declines in assessed values don’t translate into comparable decline in property taxes, as levy rates are recalculated once all the taxing districts put in for their share.

In Clark County, the levy rate rose from $10.06 per $1,000 assessed value to $11.60.

Levy rates vary wildly, from $4.88 in San Juan County to $12.86 in Whitman County. The state average is $10.28.

The Department of Revenue also looked at how close county assessors come at hitting the goal of assessing property values at 100 percent of market value.

Adams County led the charge in that category, hitting the goal 99.8 percent of the time. Chelan County had the worst score, getting it right 75 percent of the time.

The state average was 87 percent; Clark County correctly assessed 92 percent of properties.

Second-half property taxes are due Nov. 1 to the Clark County Treasurer’s Office.

Clark County’s current tax roll is $476 million, remaining unchanged from 2009.

The treasurer collects all taxes and then distributes the revenue to the different taxing districts.

More than half of the property taxes (54 percent) go to schools. Counties receive 16.5 percent, cities receive 13.5 percent and “junior” taxing districts such as fire districts, ports and libraries share the rest of the revenue.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.