Many homeowners will see higher property taxes to pay for education

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. -- The Legislature's plan to fully fund public education is about to have a real impact on homeowners in Puget Sound.

Last year, lawmakers made a deal to spend $2 billion more for education.

This came after the state Supreme Court held legislators in contempt for not performing their paramount duty of fully funding public education.

The ruling, known as the McCleary decision, came down in 2012.

Lawmakers last year finally passed a plan that relies on property taxes.

On Monday, Snohomish County released some of the first property assessments.

If you live in a single family home valued at $400,000, you can expect to pay about $330 more per year for just the education portion.
When it comes to overall taxes, it will all depend on what neighborhood you live in.

Take, for example, in Woodway, an average homeowner can expect to pay nearly $1,200 more per year while Lake Stevens and Edmonds will see about an $800 increase.

Marysville will see property taxes jump nearly $400.

Snohomish is coming in at about $550 and Lynnwood is about $770.

Pierce County says an average single-family home valued at $321,000 can expect to pay about $330 more per year.

If you think those hikes are big, King County is expected to be higher.

“It will be a significant increase,” King County Property Assessor John Wilson said.

Wilson says the Legislature’s deal is putting the heaviest burden on King County homeowners.

“Massive tax shifts from King County taxpayers into the state coffers, to fund education to pay for elsewhere across the state,” Wilson said.

Last year, some lawmakers predicted property taxes would fall in some parts of South King County but Wilson says that is just not true.

“I would love to live in the rich fantasy world they live; in mine, (they) show property taxes going up throughout the county,” Wilson said.

Wilson is expecting angry calls, although his office didn’t make the rules.

“We’ve warned our staff about that, some people are going to take it out on us,” Wilson said.

But education needs to be funded one way or another. Tulalip resident Shannon Harding says he understands the importance of education funding.

He says he supports the tax increases if it goes directly to students and schools.

But even before these hikes go into effect, Harding will have to make some tough decisions.

He built a home for his wife in Tulalip but is now realizing that he cannot afford the $7,000 property taxes a year. So now he is planning on moving to Granite Falls, where homes cost less.

“People in Seattle, I feel bad for them. I don’t want to be heartless but when you say 'I can’t afford to live in Seattle,' then you have to leave,” Harding said.

Harding, who will live his advice, says he has to think long-term.

“It keeps going up so drastically; it’s one of those things when we get older, we are not going to be able to afford it,” Harding said.

The King County Assessor says they are still crunching the exact numbers. The notices are expected to go out late February.

Homeowners will start paying higher bills starting in April.