Thursday, December 8, 2022
Dec. 8, 2022

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County assessor says most will see higher property tax bill

Van Nortwick says levies, bonds account for significantly larger increases in some areas

By , Columbian political reporter
Published:

Almost every property owner in Clark County will see an increase in their property tax bill this year, county Assessor Peter Van Nortwick told the county council at its Tuesday morning hearing.

The increase is partially the result of legislation signed by Gov. Jay Inslee last year that’s intended to satisfy a Washington Supreme Court decision mandating that the state fund basic education. But Van Nortwick said that some parts of the county will see significantly larger increases than elsewhere due to voter-approved levies and bonds.

“What’s happening this year is that every tax district in Clark County is having a tax rate increase,” said Van Nortwick, who noted that seniors and disabled individuals who qualify for exemptions will be shielded.

The state’s school funding package relies on an increase in the statewide property tax from $1.89 to $2.70 per thousand dollars of assessed value. The package keeps in place local school levies, which will be capped in 2019 at a lower level.

Van Nortwick explained that the new statewide levy rate in Clark County will be slightly higher at $2.89. He said that the state applies a ratio comparing the assessed value of properties to what they sell for on the market. Because the assessed values of properties in Clark County have been lower than what those properties have sold for, the state adjusted the levy rate higher, he said.

The size of the increase in each property tax bill will depend on where in the county the property is located, he said.

“The tax increases range from 42 cents per thousand all the way to $2.76 per thousand,” he said. “Those are significant tax increases.”

According to numbers from Van Nortwick, parts of northeast Clark County will see the largest tax increases ranging from $2 to $2.76 per thousand dollars of a property’s assessed value.

He attributed the increase in this area to a $1.35 per thousand dollars of assessed value levy that funds the North Country Emergency Medical Service district and was approved by voters last year. He also pointed to the town of Yacolt approving its EMS levy at $1.24 per thousand dollars of assessed value as a contributor to the increase. He also said that Camas School District levy rates increased by 58 cents and Battle Ground School District rates increased by 9 cents.

The northwest part of Clark County will see levy rate increases from $1.50 to $1.99. The biggest impact came from a voter-approved bond in the Ridgefield School District that increased the tax rate by 91 cents.

In central Clark County, rates will increase from 89 cents to $1.49. He said that the increase is partially due to voter-approved levies in the Camas and Battle Ground school district. Levies for Fire District 3 and the city of Washougal also contributed to the increase. Property owners in Battle Ground will see a slightly smaller increase ranging from 59 cents to 88 cents.

The areas that will see the lightest increases (42 to 58 cents) are mostly in and around Vancouver. Speaking after the meeting, he said that property owners in this area would have seen a decrease if it weren’t for the increase in the statewide levy.

Van Nortwick said that there was an across-the-board 10 percent increase in assessed values.

“Typically, when we have an increase in assessed values the tax rate goes down,” he said. He added that an increase in assessed value and the tax rate is a “significant change” in property taxes.

Responding to a question from Councilor Jeanne Stewart, Van Nortwick said that mortgage companies typically adjust escrows in June. So taxpayers who pay their taxes through escrow may find they have a deficit, he said.

As part of the school funding package, local school levies will be capped at $1.50 per thousand dollars of assessed value in 2019, which is expected to provide tax relief. However, Van Nortwick said that it will be a “different scenario” for each school district. He said that the assessor’s website has a link to a page run by the Educational Service District 112 that provides additional information and can be found at: http://web3.esd112.org/schooltax.

The tax bills are slated to be mailed out today, Valentine’s Day.

“I could think of a better Valentine card,” Council Chair Marc Boldt said at the end of the meeting. “But that’s the way it is.”

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Columbian political reporter