Property taxes will jump significantly in most cities

EVERETT — An average homeowner in Snohomish County can expect to see property taxes grow this year by the largest margin in nearly a decade.

Generally speaking, people in Arlington, Marysville, Sultan and Mountlake Terrace will see the biggest change. Depending on where you live, a combination of voter-approved tax measures, a court decision curbing county taxes on tribal lands or mudslide damage might be affecting what you’ll pay.

Treasurer Kirke Sievers’ office planned to mail out tax statements Saturday.

Countywide, there’s a 9.8 percent increase. That figure is based on an average home value of $275,000, whose 2015 bill would rise to $3,313.89 from $3,017.87 last year.

Not since 2007 have tax bills surged more, when they went up by 10.2 percent. Going back a decade, no other year comes close in terms of the year-over-year jump.

Those averages factor in the gamut of local communities, from Everett to Index, Woodway to Darrington.

The tax situation for a given property depends on a specific mix of service districts, including municipal boundaries, schools and fire protection.

For next year, an average Arlington homeowner’s tax bill will rise 16.9 percent — the most in the county. Runners-up are Marysville: 16.4 percent; Sultan: 14.3 percent; and Mountlake Terrace: 14.1 percent.

In most places, the rise is the result of voter-approved tax measures to fund schools and increased city budgets.

The rise in the Marysville area stems from a different reason, though.

It owes mostly to a 2013 federal appeals court decision that stopped county governments from collecting taxes on buildings and other improvements owned by non-Indians on tribal trust lands. Before that ruling, counties already lacked the authority to collect taxes from buildings that Indians owned on those lands.

The case stemmed from Thurston County, which had been collecting taxes on the Great Wolf Lodge resort on I-5.

In the Tulalip area, the ruling affects some 1,200 homes plus big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot at the Tulalip Tribes’ Quil Ceda Village.

Consequently, about $106 million worth of assessed property disappeared from the county tax rolls, deputy county assessor Linda Hjelle said.

“That causes a shift in who pays the taxes,” Hjelle said.

Two separate landslides from last year also took out chunks of taxable property in north and east Snohomish County.

A combined $9.5 million in assessed property was lost because of the deadly Oso mudslide and the large, but non-lethal, slide at Mount Index Riversites. Similar to the federal court decision, the loss of those properties increases the burden for other owners to remain in the same taxing districts.

Snohomish County voters approved the majority of the tax measures on last year’s ballot — 26 out of 32. Most were school district levies.

Only in Darrington did 2015 property-tax bills dip, by negative 5 percent. So did the area’s home values, by negative 7.3 percent. The town’s average assessed home value of $82,000 this year was the lowest in the county. At the other end of the spectrum was Woodway, where an average home was assessed at $1,061,900.

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

Learn more

More info on tax statements: Call 425-388-3366 or go to www.snohomishcountywa.gov/Treasurer

More info on assessments, levies and exemptions (for senior citizens and people with disabilities): call 425-388-3433 or go to www.snohomishcountywa.gov/assessor

City by city

Average percent change in 2015 property-tax bill, by city:

Arlington — 16.9

Bothell — 4.5

Brier — 11.3

Darrington — minus 5.0

Edmonds — 11.4

Everett — 4.3

Gold Bar — 3.1

Granite Falls — 8.6

Index — 13.0

Lake Stevens — 7.6

Lynnwood — 12.8

Marysville — 16.4

Mill Creek — 4.2

Monroe — 8.9

Mountlake Terrace — 14.1

Mukilteo — 10.4

Snohomish — 8.2

Stanwood — 5.3

Sultan — 14.3

Woodway — 9.4

Unincorporated areas — 9.0

Snohomish County (overall) — 9.8

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