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Woodinville says no new taxes

no new taxes by Jeff Switzer
WOODINVILLE--For the fourth year after incorporating, the City Council has reaffirmed its position that property taxes collected by the city will not be raised. The council passed first reading last week of the 1997 tax ordinance, which sets the rate at $1.60.
   Several factors help the city keep its taxes down, including an assessed valuation (AV) of property in the city which has risen at least 7 percent annually and now sits at $950,000,000, up from $680,000,000 upon incorporation and $865,000,000 last year.
   More than $22 million in new construction is also figured into the AV increase. The city will be collecting $1.396 million in property taxes in 1997, up from $1.376 million in 1996, and will begin next year with a $9.7 million balance.
   "I think it's remarkable that the city has kept the same rate since incorporation," said Mayor Bob Miller. "I think the naysayers who said the city would have to tax people out of their homes were totally proven wrong." Miller added that keeping the rate at $1.60 or less also reflected well on City Manager Joe Meneghini and city staff, who operate the city with those funds.
   City Treasurer Jim Katica told the council the assessed valuation of the city has increased three to four times the rate of inflation, keeping the city ahead of the curve for adjusting its programs in response to increased costs. Between that and ever-increasing revenues from construction and retail sales tax, which jumps to $2.97 million next year (up from $2.7 million), the city will be able to still accomplish many capital improvements, all of which were listed in the six-year capital improvements program also approved last week.
   "I think our citizens are very fortunate and are enjoying large benefits and services they did not under King County," said Councilmember Scott Hageman, who noted the county's services have stayed static or declined in response to the many incorporations and reductions in revenue.
   The city collected less than its planned $1.60 per $1,000 in 1996 because the assessments for utilities came in after the budgeting period. In response, Katica included the estimated assessed rate in the wording of the 1997 ordinance as well as the rate per $1,000.
   Residents pay approximately $15.86 per $1,000 of assessed valuation on both real property and personal property belonging to businesses. Of that, slightly more than 10 percent is collected by the city, which has the authority to collect $2.11 per $1,000 for $2 million in revenue, but chose to levy at the rate which provides $1.5 million this year.
   After the final numbers come in, area residents will have a clearer picture of how much their taxes will be next year.

1996 Property Taxes Breakdown
(Per $1,000 of Assessed Valuation)
County$2.22New figures in December.
Fire$1.19849Bond and regular rate.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS)$0.2498
State Schools$3.4996
Northshore School District$5.727
Northshore Parks & Recreation$0.037
City$1.5756$1.60 in 1997.
1996 Total$15.85758