Letters to the Editor

Island County taxes high, per capita

Island County taxpayers are and have several times in the past couple years been told by county government officials that we have one of the lowest tax rates in the state. This was again stated in Commissioner Price Johnson’s May 29 “Sound Off” where she said, “While the 2011 tax rate would be 59 cents per $1,000 of assessed value it’s among the lowest rates in the state, with only five of 39 counties under $1.”

This often quoted political spin is not the complete set of facts regarding our tax picture. Before voters buy their story line and approve a tax increase serious consideration should be given to these other facts regarding Island County taxes.

Yes we may have the lowest rate per assessed value but is that a realistic measurement?

Consider this: Island County 2008 population est. 81,424, 14th largest in state; largest city Oak Harbor population 22,744; property tax take $93,880,234 (‘08) 12th highest in state; per capita cost to live in Island County $1,153, 9th highest in state.

Cowlitz County ‘08 population est. 101,254, 12th largest in state; largest city Longview, population 36,562; property tax take $88,582,707 (‘08), 13th highest in state; per capita cost to live in Cowlitz County, $875, 24th in state.

Grant County ‘08 population est. 84,697, 13th largest in state; largest city Moses Lake, population 18,800; property tax take $70,539,305, 15th highest in state; per capita cost to live in Grant County, $833, 27th in state.

Clallam County ‘08 population est. 71,021, 19th largest in state; largest city Port Angeles, population 18,982; property tax take $65,060,372, 17th highest in state; per capita cost to live in Clallam County, $916, 21st in state

Summary: Two counties slightly larger in population (more people to serve) with similar city sizes and one slightly smaller in overall population but similar city size. All are in the bottom 50 percent of per capita tax rate, but Island County is in the top 25 percent!

This is really where we stand in the objective tax rankings of per capita cost to live!

Bill Strowbridge

Oak Harbor

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