Northwest NEWS

December 4, 2000

Features

Property tax and the City's portion for 2001

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior Staff Reporter
   WOODINVILLE - In the year 2000, Woodinville property owners paid $14.64 per thousand dollars of assessed evaluation in property tax.
   A home with an assessed value of $250,000 paid $3,660 in property tax last year. The City's portion of this tax bill was $400, which is 11 percent of the property taxes assessed.
   The city tax rate, in effect since 1994, was approved for the year 2001 at the City Council meeting on Nov. 20.
   Although the City Council has the authority to establish a rate of about $2.02 per thousand, a rate that would yield an additional $513,900 in General Fund revenue, they decided to keep the dollar amount at $1.60 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation.
   By maintaining this rate of $1.60 per thousand, the General Fund should receive about $2,291,000, about $221,000 more than 2000, an increase of about 10.6 percent over the past year, of which 1.6 percent is attributed to new construction. Keeping the rate at $1.60 per thousand when property values are increasing is considered an increase in taxes and will yield an additional $186,000 in revenue. An example of the city's portion of the annual increase would mean an additional $36 for a home with an assessed value of $250,000.
   The City Council has also maintained property taxes based on the $1.60 rate in years when valuation increases have been very low, and has accepted very small increases in levy yields.
   "The increase due to reassessment will go to specific capital projects," Finance Director Jim Katica said.
   Capital projects include street work, land acquisition and major construction. For 2001, the City will use the extra revenue for street improvements, including a right turn lane on 175th and completion of improvements at the intersection of 140th and 175th Streets.
   Katica points out that the majority of the City's revenue comes from the sales tax.
   "When we look at General Fund revenue, we're going to receive 8.8 million and 57 percent of the money comes from sales tax revenue," he said.
   General Fund revenue, both sales and property taxes, is used for maintenance of our parks and streets, police services, planning and administration and many other services that help make Woodinville a safe, organized, beautiful and pleasant place to live. In light of the newly passed, but potentially litigated, Initiative 722, Katica said the City is prepared to re-prioritize money targeted for capital projects.
   The initiative limits increases in property taxes to 2 percent annually and rolls back some tax increases and fees.
   Katica said that I-722 would affect the City immediately if it isn't struck down.
   However, in preparation for it, he said, "We've kept a fiscally conservative approach."
   The Council has approved a budget that leaves the City prepared to implement I-722. While the Council is sensitive to the issue of rapid valuation increases, citizen interest has consistently been expressed to improve the traffic situation in Woodinville.
   The rest of the $14.64 tax bill goes toward other entities that provide fire protection, hospital and library services, as well as county services including county government, parks and medical services. The largest portion of the $14.64 property tax bill goes to the Northshore School District at $5.46 per thousand.