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News from the Metro King County Council

County Council by Councilmember Louise Miller, District 3
If you are a property owner, you have probably received your Valuation Change Notice from King County, possibly indicating a sizeable increase in property taxes and assessments, so I'll try to respond to the most frequently asked questions.
   Although all properties are revalued, the Department of Assessments physically inspects only a percentage of the 450,000-plus residential properties in the county each year. This year, those neighborhoods previously assessed below market value were inspected to be brought in line with the rest of the county at fair market value. Some areas of District 3 were included in this year's physical inspection.
   County appraisers determine your assessment by your property's market value (the three-year average of sales within your neighborhood) and the characteristics of your property, including the land, house size, zoning and construction quality. Information concerning your assessment can be obtained from the Assessor's office at 296-7300.
   In a revalue year, the number of residential appeals escalates. The County Council recently passed an ordinance to extend the filing date to appeal an assessment. You now have until 60 days from the mailing date of your Valuation Change Notice or until Dec. 31 to appeal. To be successful in the process, you must provide evidence that your property has been assessed over its market value. You may call the Board of Equalization for more information at 296-3496.
   You may also apply for a property tax exemption or a deferral if your total annual income is $28,000 or less and if you are 61 years of age or older, or you are retired due to physical disability. You may obtain more information on applying for an exemption by calling the Assessor's office at 296-3920.
   King County's Treasury Department processes over one million property tax payments a year, but most of the dollars are funneled to the state or to local school districts to support K-12 education. In addition to the county and local municipalities, a part of each property tax dollar goes to other taxing districts such as the Port of Seattle, library, hospital, fire, and sewer districts, and to pay off bonds for voter-approved capital expenditures, such as the Regional Justice Center in Kent, the expansion of Harborview Medical Center, and improvements to the King County Library System.