State budget bringing property tax increases

Property owners within the Oak Harbor School District can expect to see a hike in their taxes next year with the passage of new legislation last week.

House Bill 2242, which aims to fully fund public education in response to the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling that Washington state was underfunding public schools, and the state budget that enables it, will rely primarily on property tax increases to fulfill the letter of the law.

The Legislature’s plan calls for an increase in property taxes of $2.70 per $1,000 of assessed property value over a period of four years, starting in 2018, according to the measure.

HB 2242 also states that the property tax increases will be offset by a new school district levy lid set at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

This lid is designed to cap any levies school districts might pass in addition to the tax increase.

A June 29 tax policy analysis prepared by Jessica Harrell and Richelle Geiger of the Office of Program Research estimates that Oak Harbor will have median taxable property values of $232,000, $235,700, $239,400 and $243,200 for single family residences in 2018-21.

Under the new legislation, this means that median annual property taxes should increase by $200 in 2018, by $30 more in 2019 and by $50 more in both 2020 and 2021, the analysis states.

Rich Wood, who handles media communications for Washington Education Association, said this legislation takes one step forward in a long race still to be run.

“The state Constitution guarantees all of our students an amply funded basic education,” Wood said.

“While the new state budget makes progress, it still falls short of fully funding our public schools as required by the Supreme Court’s McCleary order.”

Specifically, he said, “the new budget makes major changes in pay and benefits for teachers and other school employees,” but how these and other policy changes will affect students still remains to be seen and will have to be negotiated at the local level.

Lance Gibbon, superintendent of Oak Harbor Public Schools, carried the same sentiments as Wood, saying it is still too soon to see how the budget will fully affect his schools.

“Along with districts, taxpayers and associations across the state, we are still combing through all the details and nuances (of the legislation),” Gibbon said in an email.

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