Letter to King County Council Budget & Fiscal Management
(For the public record since I can't attend the scheduled meetings.)
Re: Your request for public input regarding property taxes--
King County should significantly lower the tax rate on downzoned, preserved land in the rural areas of the county. Urban areas and designated forest and agricultural production districts aren't affected by property taxes and lockup land regulations as are rural landowners.
Banks and developers usually figure one-quarter to one-third of valuation be assigned to land value. But in the downzoned, mandated large-lot rural areas, it's a different story. For example, on Hollywood Hill, there is a non-view 5-acre site valued at $539,500, with $368,000 assigned to the land and $171,500 to the house. (The landowner's 1996 taxes are $8,852.34.) Under normal circumstances, the land value of a $171, 500 house would be from $57,000 to $85,000. So the Hollywood Hill government-mandated large-lot site is paying up to 236% more taxes than a similar home on a normal lot.
On top of higher taxes due to oversize lots that can't be divided, the county has preserved from use, including farming, the major part of most rural sites by regulations found in sensitive areas ordinances and basin plans. The result is paying astronomical taxes on unusable land. (Appealing valuations to the assessor hasn't worked because there are too many Microsoft types who will pay huge prices for privacy, which sets the market for everyone. The county's PBRS lowered-tax program has so many pitfalls as informed landowners will shy away.)
Either be reasonable about letting us divide our land, or tax us only as a normal home site, since the majority of our land is being used for public benefit as free open space.
Maxine Keesling, Woodinville