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City Council votes for property tax increase

City of Arlington Finance Director Jim Chase explains that most Arlington property owners should see their property taxes go down in spite of the city
City of Arlington Finance Director Jim Chase explains that most Arlington property owners should see their property taxes go down in spite of the city's property tax increase, which was passed unanimously by the Arlington City Council on Nov. 19.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — After a public hearing on Nov. 5 and further discussion during a workshop meeting on Nov. 13, the Arlington City Council voted unanimously to increase the city's general property taxes, by the allowable 1 percent in 2013, during their regular meeting on Nov. 19.

City of Arlington Finance Director Jim Chase reported that, per the Snohomish County Assessor's Office, the assessed value of property within the city limits of Arlington dropped in value by approximately 6 percent.

In an attempt to offset this decline, Chase proposed that the general property tax levy for 2013 should increase from $1.31 to $1.41 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The Emergency Medical Services levy is already at its maximum limit of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Chase explained that the proposed levy would include the tax from new construction, annexations, the amount the city is allowed to recoup from refunds and abated taxes due to destroyed property, and a 1 percent increase.

"The 1 percent increase amounts to $23,925," Chase said. "The city is also entitled to collect property taxes on new construction of about $30,844, in addition to a small amount from annexations and refunds from destroyed property. The city will collect a smaller amount from the EMS property tax, about $44,770 less in 2013."

By law, the property tax ordinance must be approved by Nov. 30 of each year.

"Theoretically, the amount an Arlington property owner pays in property taxes should be smaller in 2013," Chase said. "If a property's assessed value increased for 2013, which is unlikely but possible, they could see an increase in tax."

Chase noted that the 1 percent increase in the general levy doesn't even keep up with inflation, since the property tax increase is limited to the lesser of 1 percent or the Implicit Price Deflator figure, which was 1.295 percent for the calculation. The Consumer Price Index for the 12 months that ended in October of this year for the Seattle/Tacoma area was 2.3 percent.

"We're losing money nationally to inflation, but we're losing even more locally," Chase said.

Arlington City Council member Ken Klein's assessment of the proposed property tax increase was echoed by Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert at the Nov. 19 meeting when he said, "We've had to make some hard choices here, but we're moving in the right direction with this."

Jan Schuette was the only person who spoke during the public hearing on Nov. 5, and she indicated that she supported the property tax increase.

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