Property tax dollars are used to fund much of local government operations at various levels. The process through which property taxes are levied and collected is complex. In this month’s column, I will share some important information about how property taxes are collected, how the amounts are set, and how those dollars are distributed to each taxing district.
How Taxes are Collected
The County Treasurer is an independently elected official in Snohomish County whose responsibility is to collect property taxes. While the Treasurer collects property taxes, he does not set the amounts which are collected. Each taxing district which receives property tax dollars sets those amounts independently.
Each district has a legislative body (school board, city council, county council, etc.) which sets their budget and taxing amount. This is why you might have seen an increase in your property taxes last year even though the Snohomish County Council did not raise our general property tax levy. Many agencies including school districts, fire districts, the state legislature, Sound Transit, etc. have increased their taxes significantly, resulting in an increase in the bill you receive from the Treasurer.
Who Gets Property Tax Dollars
In 2018, the Snohomish County Treasurer will collect almost $1.4 billion in property taxes. Below I breakout the various districts which receive tax dollars, how much they receive, and how those taxes are set. This is a comprehensive list of taxing districts across the county. There may be districts which you are not a part of.
Local School Districts - $552 million – 40.4%
There are 15 locally elected school boards in the county. These school boards are responsible for the local district levies to fund schools.
State School Levy - $337 million - $24.6%
As mentioned, the Washington State Legislature, made up of 98 Representatives and 49 Senators, created a new state-wide property tax levy to pay for schools.
Cities and towns - $131 million – 9.64%
There are 20 cities and towns in the county. Each city or town has a council elected by the residents in their respective jurisdictions.
Fire Districts - $115.5 million – 8.45%
There are 21 locally elected Fire Commissions. Each of these Commissions oversee the fire districts they represent.
Snohomish County General Levy - $90 million – 6.58%
Snohomish County Roads Levy - $64 million – 4.68%
Snohomish County Conservation Futures - $3.7 million – 0.3%
The Snohomish County Council sets the county’s general levy, roads levy, and conservation futures levy. As mentioned, the County Council did not increase the general property tax levy in 2018.
Library Districts - $40 million – 2.91%
Sound Transit - $17.1 million – 1.25%
Voters in parts of King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties approved ST3, a mass expansion of Sound Transit’s light rail system.
Hospital Districts - $11 million – 0.8%
There are 3 locally elected hospital commissions. Each of these commissions oversee the hospitals in their district.
Port Districts - $5.3 million – 0.39%
Snohomish County has two port districts, Everett and Edmonds. Voters in each of these districts elect commissioners to oversee their respective ports.
Parks Districts - $0.1 million – 0.01%
Nate Nehring is a member of the Snohomish County Council and represents District 1 which includes Arlington, Darrington, Granite Falls, Marysville, Stanwood, and unincorporated north county. He can be reached by email at Nate.Nehring@snoco.org or by phone at 425-388-3494.