Cost of new Seattle, King County levies could weigh heavily on homeowners

Nov 6, 2015, 11:47 AM | Updated: 12:16 pm
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(File, Associated Press)
(File, Associated Press)

While many in Seattle were celebrating the successful passing of the Move Seattle levy, a Ballard woman was at home, feeling far from jubilant.

“I want to share with you an email I got from Katherine in my old stomping grounds in Ballard,” KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson said.

“The City of Seattle has literally taxed her out of her home,” he said.

Reading from the letter, Katherine, 68, in Ballard tells Dori that she’s “scared and alone” and when she saw news footage of people celebrating the passing of the Move Seattle levy, she felt like she was “getting slapped in the face.”

“I’ve been up all night crying,” she wrote. “My husband and I bought our house in your old Ballard neighborhood in 1986. We paid $85,000. We put a lot of work and love into this old house and fixed it up really cute. The county now has it assessed at $800,000. Our property taxes are nearly $10,000 per year.”

Katherine’s husband passed away three years ago, and she is now on a fixed income. With higher property taxes, she believes she will have to sell her house.

“I have to sell the house that we raised our children in,” Katherine wrote. “I love this house. I love my neighborhood. I love my neighbors. But more than anything, I love the memories.”

According to KING 5, Seattle homeowners with average properties values at $450,000, will be paying approximately $4,500 after new taxes across the county were passed on Nov. 3. That’s about $400 more than property tax estimates from previous years. The estimate includes the $275 for Proposition 1 (Move Seattle levy), King County’s Best Starts for Kids levy at $63, and the levy for Seattle’s new public financing of campaigns (I-122) which is less than $10.

Dori argues that not every home in Seattle can be represented by the average figures often promoted for such levies. Not every home is valued at $450,000.

“The reality is that is going to cost people anywhere from $300 to thousands of dollars more than what they were collecting,” Dori said.

“Do they think about that? The people who were partying, and celebrating a transfer of a billion dollars from people like Katherine, and all the collective Katherines that are out there,” he said. “A transfer of a billion dollars from all of these families to Ed Murray and Scott Kubly and people who cannot manage projects and go billions of dollars over budget because of their ineptness. What are you celebrating when you are whooping it up?”

According to the City of Seattle, approximately 24 percent of Seattle homeowners earn less than $50,000 annually. That comes out to about 27,700 homes in the city.

For homeowners such as Katherine, there are some programs of relief that are managed at the state level. One such program allows households with less than $57,000 in annual income to spread out payments or defer payments until a property is sold, or the owner passes away. Another program for senior citizens (ages 61 and older in this case) reduces the amount of property taxes owed overall.

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

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Cost of new Seattle, King County levies could weigh heavily on homeowners