Levies & Property Tax Fact Sheet

Summary of 2008 Assessed Values and 2009 Levies

A slowing real estate market resulted in some property values dropping modestly for the 2008 assessment year while others continued to rise. The taxable value of property in Thurston County increased for the seventh consecutive year. From 2007 to the 2008 assessment year, the total taxable value of property grew from $28.81 billion to $30.12 billion. This increase of $1.309 billion was 4.5% higher than the previous year.

There were 4 levy lid lifts for fire districts that were voted on in 2008. Voters approved lid lifts for three fire districts: Fire Districts 1, 11, and 12. Lid lift requests made by Fire District 3 failed. Voters also approved a City of Olympia General Obligation Bond and Maintenance & Operation (M&O) levies for 9 local school districts.

Actions by local voters and increased taxing district budgets had an impact on the overall county tax rate. For the 2009 tax year, the average levy rate countywide increased slightly from $9.75 per thousand of assessed value in 2008 to $9.87. Over 44% of the property owners will pay less property tax than they paid in 2008. However, some will pay significantly more because of levies passed by voters.


What is the overall increase in property taxes for 2009?

Total property tax to be billed in 2009 and then distributed to 42 taxing districts is $297.1 million. This increase of $16.2 million over 2008 property taxes is due to voter-approved levies and/or increases initiated by taxing districts.

Click here to see a breakdown of property taxes by taxing district.


In general, what causes property taxes to go up or down?

Property tax increases are generally caused by a combination of factors. For instance, when taxing districts ask for more money (that is, increase their budgets), property owners will pay more tax. Most districts set their budgets by a vote of their legislative body that may authorize increases up to their statutory or levy rate limits. This often results in increased taxes.

Taxes can also go up when voters approve excess levies for community services. Voters can approve a taxing district's request for excess levies for continuing operations or capital projects, such as school district maintenance and operation levies, building bonds, bonds for school buses, or bonds for fire trucks.

Taxes for an individual property owner may go up when the value of the property rises at rates faster than other properties in that particular area of the county. Taxes may also increase for an individual property owner when a new house is constructed on a previously vacant lot or when a property previously receiving an exemption (such as a senior/disabled person exemption program) is sold and becomes fully taxable.

Property tax decreases may happen when taxing districts ask for less money or voters defeat excess levies, when a property qualifies for an exemption (senior or disabled citizens exemption, remodeling exemption), or when increases in value in some areas are less rapid than other areas.

1% Levy Limit Limit In a special session held in November 2007, the Legislature reinstated the 1% Levy Limit on how much taxing districts can increase their budgets without voter approval.


What caused a $16.2 million increase in taxes over the amount collected in 2008 tax year?

There are multiple reasons for the countywide increase in property tax collections, including:

  1. Excess (Voter Approved) Levies– In 2008, voters approved maintenance and operations levies and/or capital projects levies for 9 school districts. North Thurston�s levy for capital projects was the only levy that was defeated. (See pages 3 and 4 for impact to typical homeowner.)

  2. Voter Approved Lid Lifts – In 2008, four Fire Districts went to the voters to request a lid lift to their levy rate. Three received voter approval: FD 1 (Rochester/Grand Mound), FD 11 (Littlerock), and FD 12 (Tenino). The lid lift for FD 3 (Lacey) was defeated. (See page 4 for impact to typical homeowner.)

  3. New Construction There was significant new construction for the 2008 assessment year, totaling $754 million, although it dropped from $1.1 billion in 2007. New construction includes new homes, new subdivisions, commercial buildings, and remodeling activity.

  4. Taxing Districts Increase Their Budgets as Permitted by Law Each year taxing districts can legally increase their regular levy (budget from property taxes) by the lesser of 1% or inflation, plus an adjustment for new construction. For the 2009 tax year, most taxing districts increased their regular levy by 1% plus an adjustment for new construction.

  5. Taxing Districts Use Banked Capacity – Banked capacity is when taxing districts do not levy (or ask) for the full amount of tax allowed by law and may use it for a subsequent year. For 2009 property taxes, the City of Tumwater, Public Utility District 1, Thurston County General Fund and Roads, Medic One, and Fire District 15 used some of their banked capacity. This action allows districts to request additional funds in the current year and resulted in a tax increase to properties served by these districts. In these cases, the actual tax increase was minimal.


How do 2009 property tax bills generally compare to 2008 property tax bills?

Some taxpayers will pay more property tax and some will pay less in 2009. About two-thirds of the property owners will pay less or from just a few cents to $50 more than they paid in 2008. Property taxes for approximately 44% of the taxpayers will be less than the prior year.


LEVIES APPROVED BY VOTERS IN 2008 THAT AFFECT 2009 TAXES

Fourteen taxing districts asked voters in 2008 to approve additional funds in the form of Bond levies, Maintenance & Operation levies, Capital Projects levies, and Lid Lifts. District voters passed 14 of the 16 ballot measures. Bond levies generally run for an extended period, such as 10 or 20 years, and the permanent lid lifts increased the levy limit for either one or six years.

Maintenance & Operation & Capital Project Levies (also known as excess levies)

Passed:

Centralia School District 401L passed a 2 year M&O levy on Feb 19, 2008. This proposition authorized the following taxes: 2009 tax year $4,503,000 and 2010 tax year $4,638,000. For a home valued at $250,000, this amounts to $482.98 for 2009 -- a decrease of $34.57 from the prior year.

Griffin School District 324 passed a 2 year M&O levy on Feb 19, 2008. This proposition authorized the following taxes: 2009 tax year $1,671,300.00 and 2010 tax year $1,766,900. They also passed a 2 year Capital Projects levy on Nov 4, 2008. This proposition authorized the following taxes: $400,000 for 2009 and 2010 collection. For a home valued at $250,000, this amounts to $350.98 for 2009 -- an increase of $36.66 over the prior year.

North Thurston School District 3 passed a 2 year M&O levy on May 20, 2008. This proposition authorized the following taxes: 2009 tax year - $23,500,000 and 2010 tax year -$25,400,000. The original request for the M&O failed on February 19, 2008. For a home valued at $250,000, this amounts to $555.58 for 2009 -- an increase of $96.90 over the prior year.

Olympia School District 111 passed a 4 year M&O levy on Feb 19, 2008. This proposition authorized the following taxes: 2009 tax year - $19,000,000; 2010 tax year - $20,140,000; 2011 tax year - $21,348,400.; and 2012 tax year - $22,629,304. For a home valued at $250,000, this amounts to $498.70 for 2009 -- an increase of $33.86 over the prior year.

Rainier School District 307 passed a 2 year M&O on Feb 19, 2008. This proposition authorized the following taxes: 2009 tax year - $1,350,562 and 2010 tax year - $1,439,136. For a home valued at $250,000, this amounts to $619.94 for 2009 -- an increase of $88.31 over the prior year.

Rochester School District 401T passed a 2 year M&O levy on April 22, 2008. This proposition authorized the following taxes: 2009 tax year - $3,236,000 and 2010 tax year -$3,388,000. For a home valued at $250,000, this amounts to $660.88 for 2009 which is an increase of $190.55 over the prior year.

Tenino School District 402 passed a 2 year M&O levy on Feb 19, 2008. This proposition authorized the following taxes: 2009 tax year - $2,579,359 and 2010 tax year - $2,746,860. For a home valued at $250,000, this amounts to $512.81 for 2009 -- a decrease of $40.71 over the prior year.

Tumwater School District 33 passed a 2 year M&O levy on Feb 19, 2008. This proposition authorized the following taxes: 2009 tax year - $10,800,000 and 2010 tax year - $11,800,000. For a home valued at $250,000, this amounts to $567.88 for 2009 -- an increase of $35.26 over the prior year.

Yelm School District 2 passed a 4 year M&O levy on Feb 19, 2008. This proposition authorized the following taxes: 2009 tax year - $6,900,000; 2010 tax year - $7,452,000; 2011 tax year - $8,085,000; and 2012 tax year - $8,772,000. For a home valued at $250,000, this amounts to $563.97 for 2009 -- an increase of $21.68 over the prior year.

Did Not Pass:

North Thurston School District 3 capital projects levy failed to pass on February 19, 2008.

Bond Levies (also known as excess levies)

Passed:

City of Olympia passed a 20-year Fire Department Acquisition and Improvement Bond Levy on August 19, 2008. The first year of collection for this levy is 2010 tax year. At this point, it is not known how much the city will levy for in 2010.

Lid Lifts

Passed:

Fire District 1 (Rochester/Grand Mound) passed a 1-year permanent lid lift on August 19, 2008. For the 2009 tax year, this is an increase from $0.99 to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value. For a home valued at $250,000, this represents an increase of $126.95 more than 2008.

Fire District 11 (Littlerock) passed a 1-year permanent lid lift on August 19, 2008. For the 2009 tax year, this is an increase from $1.04 to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value. For a home valued at $250,000, this represents an increase of $114.30 more than 2008.

Fire District 12 (Tenino) passed a 6-year permanent lid lift on November 4, 2008. For the 2009 tax year, this is an increase from $0.74 to $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed value. For a home valued at $250,000, this represents an increase of $90.99 more than 2008.

Did Not Pass

Fire District 3 (Lacey) proposed a 6-year permanent lid lift to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, but it was defeated in August 2008 and again in November 2008.


Click here to see prior years fact sheets.