Property taxes rise

SNOQUALMIE - Snoqualmie residents got a rude surprise last

week when King County Assessor Scott Noble released this year's property

tax increase figures. There at the bottom of the page, the document stated

that the city's valuations for property had increased 47.5 percent over 1999.

At first glance that indicated taxes were going to go up by a like

amount, and as a result the phone started ringing off the hook at the Snoqualmie

city administration offices, according to City Clerk Jodi Warren. An

untold number of residents called to express their concerns, outrage and

frustration over the possibility of their taxes going up almost 50 percent.

However, as the saying goes, "it ain't so."

Noble stressed this in a phone conversation with the Valley Record

on Friday. He said the rise in valuation in the city was a direct result of the

construction of a large number of new, expensive houses at

Snoqualmie Ridge, which he characterized as "massive."

"There was $56 million in new construction value in the city,"

Noble advised. "Snoqualmie's assessed value last year totaled $194

million. In 2000, that's increased to $313 million."

He added the typical levy rate for Snoqualmie has declined from

$14.30 per thousand in 1999 to $13.38 in 2000. Therefore, the average

taxpayer will not see anything approaching a 47.5 percent increase in their tax bill.

"We sure do not want to terrify anybody with something that

isn't going to come to pass," Noble concluded.

Still, at Monday night's city council meeting, Snoqualmie Mayor

R. "Fuzzy" Fletcher felt obliged to

speak to his constituents and repeat the message: community homeowners'

taxes are not going through the roof this year.

Fletcher reminded the audience that the city of Snoqualmie and all

cities in Washington were limited to a 6-percent increase over the

previous year's tax levy. Referring to this year's typical levy rate of $13.38, he

said, "Overall, the property tax levy rate is lower than it's been in the last

few years."

Fletcher added the city expects to receive $838,000 in taxes in 2000,

a large part of which will come from new construction

According to the assessor's office, property owners throughout

the Snoqualmie Valley School District will see an average increase of

7.64 percent, while Riverview School District residents will see an average

increase of 4.32 percent. Among specific communities, Duvall average

valuations increased from $194,800 in 1999 to $212,000 in 2000, for an

average tax increase of 3.6 percent; in North Bend, valuations rose from

$199,500 in 1999 to $216,500 in 2000, for an average tax increase of 2.9

percent; and in Carnation, average valuations rose from $156,000 in 1999

to $172,000. However, the levy rate declined from $15.37 per thousand

to $13.75, so residents should see an average decrease of 1.4 percent.

According to Noble, countywide the average property tax bill for

2000 will see an increase of 7.4 percent, down from last year's 11.6

percent average increase. Total property taxes for all purposes are expected to

be $2.09 billion in 2000, up 7.4 percent over 1999's $1.95 billion.

The assessor reported one major reason for tax growth in 2000 was

the choice by more taxing districts to levy the maximum allowable. He added

the decision to levy the maximum rate reversed a four-year trend by

King County communities. Only a handful of districts cited I-695 in their

levy ordinances as a factor in the decision to take the maximum tax amount.

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