Clark County no longer has highest property tax rate

Pierce County's levy rate state's highest; Clark in top five

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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Clark County has been stripped of its distinction of having the highest average property tax levy rate in the state.

Pierce County now holds that title, according to an annual report released Thursday by the Washington Department of Revenue.

Clark, Spokane, Whitman and Franklin counties round out the top five.

Locally, property tax bills didn't increase as much as the previous year. While the average single-family residential property tax bill in Clark County increased by $134 from 2010 to 2011, the average local tax bill increased $27 from 2011 to 2012.

Clark County commissioners did not increase property taxes for 2012.

Having a high levy rate doesn't mean people are paying the highest taxes, said Mike Gowrylow, communications director for the Department of Revenue.

In a budget-based system, when values go down rates go up.

For example, he said, residents in King County have a lower tax levy rate than residents in Clark County -- $11.37 per $1,000 of assessed value, compared to $13.66 per $1,000 of assessed value -- but people in King County pay more in taxes because their property values are higher.

Statewide, property tax revenue increased 1.6 percent ($143 million) to $9.3 billion. Of that $143 million, new construction accounted for $37 million, Gowrylow said.

Schools have the largest -- 55.3 percent -- share of all levies, followed by counties (16.1 percent), cities (13.4 percent) and junior districts such as fire districts and ports (15.2 percent).

Average bill down $10

About 40 percent of property taxes result from voter-approved local levies and bonds and levy lid lifts for local taxing jurisdictions, Gowrylow said.

In Clark County, the total assessed value of all taxable property dropped 1.8 percent, from $38,035,672 to $37,355,073.

Statewide, the average assessed value of a single-family residence dropped from $243,998 to $229,908, and the average property tax bill dropped $10 to $2,708.

In Clark County, the average assessed value of a single-family residence dropped from $205,559 to $200,191. The average tax bill was $2,735, up from $2,708.

Gowrylow said average assessed values and taxes ranged from a high in King County ($350,975 and $3,992) to a low in Garfield County ($66,141 and $682).

Statewide, the average tax levy rate is $11.78.

Pierce County's rate is $13.87 per $1,000 of assessed value.

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