All Politics is Local

Taxman Jack

Here is Jack:

Image

Here is Jack’s house:

ImageFrom the Clark County Assessor’s Office, taken in 2007

Since the Vancouver City Council voted Monday to increase the property tax levy by 1 percent, let’s talk about Councilor Jack Burkman’s taxes as a way to explain a point he made to me today.

In my story, I wrote that the owner of a $200,000 home paid $592 in city property taxes in 2012 and, depending on where the levy rate settles, will pay between $620 and $630 in 2013.

As Burkman pointed out, that’s not a fair comparison because the reason levy rates are increasing is property values have dropped.

The average assessed value has decreased by 3.64 percent over the last year.

In other words, the owner of a $200,000 home in 2012 is probably no longer the owner of a home valued at $200,000.

Take Jack’s tax bill as an example: In 2012 he and his wife Sherry paid $682 in city property taxes (just a chunk of their total property tax bill of $3,151). The value of his house was $229,158, and the levy rate was $2.979 per $1,000 of assessed value.

However, the value of his home, for the purpose of 2013 taxes, has dropped to $219,358. So, again, depending on where the levy rate settles, which the city estimates will be between $3.10 per $1,000 of assessed value and $3.15 per $1,000 of assessed value, Jack and Sherry will pay between $678 and $689.

So their contribution to the city could be anywhere from $4 less than what they paid in 2012 to $7 more.

Why don’t they just automatically pay 1 percent more? Because they will also (well, not them, as the county treasurer will do this) factor how their property value changed relative to other property values. They could end up with a larger piece of pie, so to speak, or a smaller one.

Stephanie Rice

I have worked at The Columbian since 1996. I covered the criminal justice system for 10 years and currently cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at stephanie.rice@columbian.com or 360-735-4508.

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