Enumclaw’s 2021 property tax rate topic of Monday public hearing

The proposed rate is $10.83 per $1,000 in assessed value.

The Enumclaw City Council chambers. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

The Enumclaw City Council chambers. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

It appears Enumclaw property owners will be paying about $10.83 per $1,000 of assessed value next year. That adds up to a bit more than $4,300 for the owner of property – that’s buildings and land – assessed at $400,000.

The rate isn’t official and certainly isn’t carved into stone. Nothing will be finalized until the seven-member Enumclaw City Council votes Nov. 23 on a full municipal budget for 2021.

Included on that Monday evening agenda will be a public hearing on the tax rate, allowing the public to offer input.

The $10.83 rate is found in the preliminary budget created by Enumclaw Mayor Jan Molinaro and city staff. It consists of dollar figures for the 10 taxing entities operating within Enumclaw’s city limits.

No matter what their property is assessed at and no matter how much they pay, city property owners direct more than half their tax dollars to fund public education. The state school system and the Enumclaw School District each claim 27 percent of the total tax bill. Other large recipients are King County Fire District 28 (13.81 percent), the city of Enumclaw (12.03 percent) and King County (11.41 percent).

Five more taxing district each get a sliver of the total. Those include the King County Library System (3.33 percent), local emergency medical services (2.45 percent), the Port of Seattle (1.10 percent), ferry services (.96 percent) and local flood zones (.85 percent).

Figuring a municipal tax rate is quite a math exercise and begins with the total assessed value of property in a given area. Enumclaw’s overall value, determined by the King County Assessor’s Office and based on market values, is just shy of $1.84 billion (an increase of about $165 million from the 2020 figure).

The actual amount that gets collected was limited in 2001 by the state’s voters who passed Initiative 747. Prior to that, tax collections could jump by 6 percent each year; I-747 slashed the annual increase to 1 percent (or the level of the Implicit Price Deflator, whichever is less).

A second item factoring into the budget is the concept of “banking” unused tax capacity. If a municipality assesses less than it is allowed, the difference can be reserved and called upon in future years. Enumclaw hasn’t dipped into its banked capacity since 2015 but is doing so for 2021, a result diminished revenues as a result of COVID-19. Using its banked capacity allows the city to collect an additional $492,000 from property owners.

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