Taxes — probably the last thing you want to think about amidst the holidays, but with a slew of levy increases approved by voters and cities and counties finalizing their budgets, Plateau residents should expect some numbers to shift from this year’s bill to the next.
While Buckley residents currently pay the highest property tax rate, both Enumclaw and Black Diamond could surpass it in 2024 if two local bonds are passed.
And keep in mind that however tax rates may rise or fall, property values have been increasing year after year. Out of all three cities, Black Diamond experienced the largest surge in median home values between 2021 and 2022; additional increases in 2023 can further increase annual property tax bills for everyone on the Plateau.
Finally, while it’s possible to take a stab at what future property tax rates might be, the King County Assessor’s Office warned that the constantly-changing factors mean it would likely be inaccurate.
“All things being equal to 2022, [estimates] would be accurate but there are too many moving parts, assessed values, budget needs, elections, expiring levies,” staff said in an email interview. “Another consideration is the flux in new construction values year over year.”
With that in mind, here are some factors you can expect to affect your taxes in the coming years.
Out of all three cities, Buckley has the highest property 2022 tax rate, landing at $10.41 per $1,000 in assessed property value. However, come 2023, there doesn’t look like there will be many changes to the local tax rate.
About 41% of the total tax rate ($4.27) goes to local schools. Washington State takes another quarter of the pie ($2.66), the city takes roughly 19% ($1.96) and Pierce County takes another 8% or so ($0.85).
The rest — totaling less than a dollar of the tax rate — goes toward library, port and flood districts and the conservation futures program.
The city council passed its 2023 property tax levy, EMS tax levy and fire station levy at the most recent city council meeting.
The property tax levy actually declined from $1.31 this year to $1.14 for 2023, but owners may end up paying more if their property values increased.
The EMS levy similarly fell from $0.33 to $0.29, and the special Fire Station levy fell from $0.32 to $0.26.
All together, this could mean Buckley residents could see their overall tax rate decrease in 2023, but rising home values (from $375,500 in 2021 to about $431,500 this year) likely still means a larger annual property tax bill.
Over in King County, Enumclaw residents — with their taxes distributed between the city, Enumclaw Fire Department, the Enumclaw School District, and various county and state taxes — have a total 2022 property tax rate of about $10.02 per $1,000 in assessed value.
More than half of those tax dollars goes toward education; the Enumclaw School District has a tax rate of about $2.73 per $1,000 in value (27% of the total tax rate), while the state school fund tax rate is about $2.81 (just over 28% of the overall rate).
EFD takes the next biggest chunk, with a levy rate of about $1.37 (13.6% of the total tax rate).
The county pulls a rate of $1.22, while the city has a rate around $1.11. Further down the list is the King County Library System (32 cents), a county emergency medical services levy (25 cents), the Port of Seattle (11 cents), and the King County Flood District (8 cents).
A few of these tax rates will shift come 2023.
Next year, EFD’s levy will lift to its full rate $1.50, a 14 cent increase.
Voters also approved the county’s Conservation Futures Levy lid lift, bringing this particularly tax rate from 3 cents to 6 cents.
Finally, the city of Enumclaw’s property tax rate is expected to decrease to just over 94 cents, a difference of about 16 cents.
This could mean that the overall property tax rate for Enumclaw residents could functionally stay the same in 2023 as it was this year.
However, it’s unlikely the current median home value ($420,000) will remain constant. Home values have been rising year after year, and the median home value in 2022 rose almost 22% from the previous year ($345,000).
This means even if the property tax rate stays the same, your final property tax bill will still increase.
That’s all just next year, though, and 2024 could have some drastic changes to your property tax rate.
If ESD’s proposed $243 million bond, to appear on the February 2023 ballot, passes, the district’s 2023 tax rate will jump from $3.07 to $4.67, a $1.60 increase.
And then there’s Enumclaw’s proposed community center bond, which is planned to show up on the April 2023 special election ballot. The project only has soft estimates for total cost, but it’s been estimated that a 35-cent tax rate (for a 20-year bond) or a 26-cent rate (for a 30-year bond) would support a budget of $14 million.
Together, these two measures could cause property tax rates to spike, and with increasing home values, final property tax bills could be hundreds of more dollars in 2024 than the previous year.
While Black Diamond suffered the highest local property tax bill increase between 2021 and 2022, the tax rate for residents is the lowest on the Plateau, coming in at $9.20 per $1,000 in assessed value.
Even more of its property taxes are distributed to schools than their neighbor to the south — even though ESD and the state school fund have the same tax rate as in Enumclaw, the share of their distribution is higher at about 30% each.
The city takes the next biggest chunk with a tax rate of $1.67, roughly 18% of total property taxes collected from residents.
The tax rate for the county, port, library, EMS, and flood district remain the same.
City residents do not pay property taxes for Mountain View Fire and Rescue because Black Diamond has not voted to be incorporated into the fire district. However, those living outside city limits have an extra MVFR levy of $1.31, to increase to $1.50 next year.
Those living inside city limits, though, will see Black Diamond’s property tax rate decrease to $1.38, the lowest it’s likely ever been in recent history, said Finance Director May Miller.
Still, with home valuations going up (they increased from $411,000 in 2021 to $512,000 this year), overall tax bills are expected to continue increasing.
And while Black Diamond obviously won’t be affected by Enumclaw’s community center bond, it would be hit with a property tax rate increase if ESD’s bond is passed, further affecting residents’ wallets.