Assessor Will Hold Community Meeting in Burien Wednesday Night

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King County Assessor Lloyd Hara

by Ralph Nichols

Property in Highline cities “lost a lot of value in this assessment cycle,” King County Assessor Lloyd Hara noted in a recent interview with The B-Town Blog.

Now, he continued, “It’s important for us to get out and to listen to the public and to explain why.”

The assessor’s South King County Meeting – one in a series of community meetings Hara is holding around the county – will be Wednesday, March 14, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the city council chambers in the Burien Library/City Hall Building, 400 SW 152nd Street.

Hara, together with others from his office and the county Tax Advisor’s Office and the Treasurer’s Office, will answer citizens’ questions about their property taxes, valuations, exemptions and the tax appeal process.

King County Councilwoman Julia Patterson, who now represents part of Burien as well as SeaTac and Des Moines, will also attend. A conflicting commitment will keep county Councilman Joe McDermott, who represents Burien and North Highline, from the meeting.

He will also explain where local property tax dollars go. Burien receives only a fraction of the total collected within the city, while the rest goes to the Highline School District, Fire Districts 2 and 11, the King County Library District, the Port of Seattle and the state.

Burien experienced the sharpest drop in property values from 2010 to 2011, and “it’s important that we speck with the city where assessment values dropped the most,” Hara said.

In addition to the general public, city officials and representatives of the Highline School District and the fire, water and sewer districts have been invited.

As, Hara emphasized, have been property taxpayers, city officials and representatives of other taxing districts from Des Moines, Normandy Park, North Highline, Tukwila, SeaTac, Kent and Federal Way.

According to the King County Assessor’s Office, the median assessed value of property in Burien in 2010 was $238,000, which generated $3,074.96 in property taxes in 2011 based on the 2011 tax rate of $12.92 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The city’s median assessed value of property in 2011 fell to $205,000, which generated $2,816.70 in property taxes in 2012 based on the 2012 tax rate of $13.74 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Property taxes may go up even if property valuations decrease because Washington is one of only two states that operates on a revenue-based system.

This means that a local taxing district’s budget – city, county, school district, special purpose district – will be met as long as that budget increases by no more than 1 percent (under Initiative 747, the annual budget increase is limited to 1 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, unless voters approve an override).

[For a brief explanation from the King County Assessor’s Office on how the revenue-based system works, view this video:

Hara explained that “short sales, foreclosure sales” and the reality that “property values declined more rapidly here than elsewhere in the state” all had a sharp negative impact on the median assessed value of property in Burien.

He cited the halt of condominium sales at the Burien Town Square complex throughout 2010 and most of 2011, which occurred after construction lender Corus Bank was closed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

While this was due to factors beyond the city’s control, “it’s an example of the major impact of the national economy” on local property values, Hara said.

Elected King County Assessor, this is Hara’s third visit to Burien. “I’m looking forward to getting out to where the citizens are and listening, learning and participating,” he added.

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