Property tax bills to rise by up to 27%, assessor says

There are local factors, but the increase is driven largely by changes in state education funding.

EVERETT — Homeowners might want to brace for some sticker shock when they open their property tax bills next month.

The tab is due to rise by 16 percent, on average, across Snohomish County. The bill for the average-valued home will go up by $600 compared to last year, hitting $4,360.

That’s according to numbers released Thursday by Snohomish County Assessor Linda Hjelle.

“I’m trying hard to get information out to the public so they’re aware of the changes and aware of the impact,” Hjelle said. “As soon as we got the numbers, I wanted to get them out to the public.”

Homeowners in Lake Stevens will see the biggest jump — 27.7 percent. Tax bills in three other cities will rise by 20 percent or more: Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Brier.

The bills are typically mailed in mid-February. Half is due by the end of April, the other half by the end of October.

Countywide, the increase is being driven largely by changes in state education funding in response to the state Supreme Court ruling in the McCleary case. In Snohomish County, that means an extra 82 cents per $1,000 worth of assessed property value to pay for state education.

The average residential property owner with an assessed value of $335,800 would have paid $682 to the state school levy in 2017, the Assessor’s Office said. In 2018, the average assessed home value rose to $377,600 with $1,076 in property tax going toward state education levies. That’s a difference of $394.

As part of the state changes, a cap on local levies is supposed to kick in for 2019. That should keep the combined state-local tax bill for education at or below 2017 levels for taxpayers in Everett, Mukilteo, Sultan and other districts, school officials in those areas say.

Lake Stevens’ increase in 2018 mainly owes to a school district construction bond voters passed two years earlier. A voter-approved lid lift for the local EMS levy also contributed.

The Edmonds School District accounts for a significant piece of the rise across southwest Snohomish County.

Lynnwood homeowners also will pay more for fire protection.

Lynnwood’s fire department merged Oct. 1 with Fire District 1 to become South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue. That came after voters approved a ballot measure in August endorsing the change.

City officials initially calculated the move would save money. Lynnwood did cut its portion of the tax bill by 51 percent, as the city no longer runs the fire department. However, the regional fire authority now more than makes up for the city’s portion.

The owner of a house assessed at Lynnwood’s current average of $340,200 would pay an extra $196 compared to last year, finance director Sonja Springer said. Of that $196, at total of $94 is due to the increase in average assessed value, and $102 is due to the net impact of the new tax for the fire authority, Springer said.

The most significant factor increasing property taxes for Mountlake Terrace homeowners was the city’s regular levy. The city was able to use banked capacity for levy increases it opted not to take in previous years.

Assessed values in the county have gone up this year by an average of 12.4 percent. The typical home is now valued at $377,600 from $335,800 a year earlier.

Bothell and Mountlake Terrace have the highest increase in assessed value, of 17 percent and 15.4 percent, respectively.

Woodway, where the average home is now assessed at more than $1.3 million, saw the lowest average rise in value, of 2.5 percent.

Property owners were mailed their current valuation notices over the summer.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@herald Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Tax hike

Average increase in property tax countywide compared to previous year:

2009: 0 percent

2010: minus 3.2 percent

2011: 3.3 percent

2012: minus 3.4 percent

2013: minus 3.3 percent

2014: 4.4 percent

2015: 9.8 percent

2016: 2.1 percent

2017: 11.1 percent

2018: 16 percent

Average increase in property tax in 2018, compared to 2017, by community:

Arlington: 13 percent

Bothell (part of city in Snohomish County): 18.8 percent

Brier: 20.1 percent

Darrington: 13.8 percent

Edmonds: 16.5 percent

Everett: 11.5 percent

Gold Bar: 14.9 percent

Granite Falls: 15 percent

Index: 17.3 percent

Lake Stevens: 27.7 percent

Lynnwood: 24.4 percent

Marysville: 13.6 percent

Mill Creek: 11 percent

Monroe: 17.8 percent

Mountlake Terrace: 21.6 percent

Mukilteo: 11.4 percent

Snohomish: 13.8 percent

Stanwood: 16.8 percent

Sultan: 13 percent

Woodway: 9.2 percent

Unincorporated Snohomish County: 15.8 percent

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