Average property tax bill to drop by about $100

Homeowners in Snohomish County can expect property taxes to drop by about $100, on average, in 2012 compared to last year.

But before getting your hopes up, don’t forget the three most important words in real estate: location, location, location. Your bill will depend on the school, fire and other taxing districts where you live.

Folks in Index, on average, will see a 5 percent increase in their property taxes while a typical property owner in the city of Snohomish can expect a drop of more than 16 percent.

Some bills are dropping because their taxing districts have hit the maximum levy limits allowed by state law.

“There were quite a few taxing districts that met their statutory limit on their rate,” County Assessor Cindy Portmann said.

Other taxing areas, including school, library and hospital districts, have retired bonds. That means people will no longer be taxed to pay them off. Among those are bonds for the city of Marysville, the Lake Stevens School District and the Arlington School District.

Most people should be receiving their property statements in the mail this week. The county treasurer mailed out statements Friday.

Taxes don’t automatically move up and down with property values. That’s because Washington uses a budget-based system for property taxes. What you pay depends on taxing-district budgets and voter-approved levies.

This year’s property taxes are based on assessments sent out in April and June. The assessor valued the average Snohomish County home at $241,600, a decrease of 12.5 percent from $276,000 in 2011.

The lowest was $112,700 in Darrington, where this year’s tax bill averages about $1,500. At the opposite end of the county, geographically and economically, is Woodway, with an average $929,300 home value and $9,807.65 tax bill.

The biggest portion of the tax bill goes to support schools. Other significant chunks of the tax bill support fire protection and other municipal services.

This year in Snohomish County, the average property-tax bill will drop by $105.02. More than 40 percent of property-tax increases here have come from measures that voters approved.

In 2011, voters passed seven of 10 tax measures on the ballot, with the increases going toward levies for cities or fire districts.

Increases also can come from exemptions shifting the tax burden to others, or taxing districts increasing their budgets by the 1 percent per year allowed by law.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

Property taxes

For more: www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/Departments/Treasurer/.

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