Buckley property owners could see relief in 2004

By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald

Even though the property tax rates in Buckley are being increased from last year, the total amount most Buckley residents will be paying in 2004 will decrease.

At the Oct. 28 City Council meeting, the Council voted to increase the property tax and Emergency Medical Services rates.

The regular property tax for 2004 is estimated at $630,000 and $93,000 for Emergency Medical Services. The increases are the full 1 percent as allowed by state law. Assessed valuation within the city totaled $260,529,022, which includes a little more than $2 million of new construction.

The new construction will bring the city $5,470 more at this year's tax rate. The total increase in property tax revenue with new construction and the full levied rate is $17,772.

However, for those residents whose property did not increase in value as a result of Pierce County's reassessment this year, the amount they will pay for property taxes and EMS is less than they paid last year. This year, Buckley residents paid $2.5495 per $1,000 of assessed value and another $.3757 for their EMS tax. Next year, property owners will pay $2.4075 in property taxes and $.3548 for EMS

This means the owner of a $150,000 single-family residence paid $383.42, plus $56.35 for EMS in 2003; next year, that same property owner will pay $361.12 and $53.22.

Buckley City Administrator Dave Schmidt said while the budget process is not completed, the city's spending plan for next year will be fairly conservative. He said a lot of departments tightened their belts to cut costs. Two budget workshops have been scheduled for 6 p.m. at Nov. 12 and Nov. 25.

Schmidt said most of the projects that will take place next year are continuations of existing projects. The city will move forward with building the multi-use skate park, a site and facility will be decided for the youth center and the city will move ahead with designs for the sewer treatment plant. The water main will be replaced on Rainier Avenue, a new roof will be built on the city's reservoir and the Ryan Road water main porject will be completed. The city will also work to complete its comprehensive plan using master's level planning students from the University of Washington.

Costs for the city will go up next year as medical and dental insurance for employees has increased. The city will pay 23 percent more for medical coverage and 3 percent more for dental, which takes a big chunk out of the general fund budget.

But while the budget is tight, Schmidt said all hope is not lost.

"The budget really isn't in that bad of shape; we just don't have a lot of the excesses that people had in the '90s," he said.

Also during their Oct. 28 meeting, council members voted to award a tree removal project from the city cemetery and a tree by the Catholic Church to Tezak's Tree Service for the amount of $3,880. In the cemetery a number of trees' roots are destroying headstones, roadways and drainage ways. The tree by the church actually is on city property, but is extending over the property line and there are concerns the tree may be a hazard because of its size.

Jessica Keller can be reached at

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