King County taxes may force 38-year Capitol Hill neighbor out of town
Linda and her husband first bought a home on Seattle’s Capitol Hill in 1980. They were a young couple with their first jobs. They eventually bought a project house in the neighborhood in 1996 — a risky purchase that made them a “laughing stock” of their friends.
“(Our second house) was in complete disrepair,” Linda told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “It had never been remodeled. It was built in 1905. And we had to bid against nine other families in 1996. The asking price was $575,000, and we paid $643,000.”
They stretched and strained to make their lives on Capitol Hill work, financially. It’s paid off with hard work and time. It’s also added up — to about $21,960. That’s the recent property tax bill Linda and her husband received from King County. After nearly four decades as Capitol Hill neighbors, they have to move out under current King County taxes.
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While their home was purchased for $643,000 in 1996, it’s valued at $2.2 million today. Of course, they only get that money if they sell the home they fixed up themselves — it didn’t even have a working bathroom when they got it.
“We’re 63 and our neighborhood now has a lot of younger people moving in with families,” Linda explained. “… it appears that in Seattle people are fighting to buy these places because there is so much wealth still moving to Seattle. But there’s people like us and others in our neighborhood, older people — where will they go? Where will you go? You really do have to leave Seattle.”
King County taxes
Aside from the steep King County taxes, Linda feels like the money she pays never really goes anywhere.
“When we looked at our bill, my husband’s comment was, ‘It’s five times the rate of inflation,’” Linda said. “And do we really think that the services we are getting are five times better; for this wad of change? No, it’s not. This is $21,000, and everything else is really high, too. We have such a high sales tax. The gas tax is so high.”
Linda also points out Seattle’s soda tax.
“When I looked at (my tax bill) closely, I saw it was $11,000 just to the schools,” she said. “We never sent our child to the public schools. I don’t want to sound whiny, and ‘poor us’ … For that money, I know they aren’t getting the education that we got to send our kids to a public school to get. (Teachers) won’t let them have charter schools; they fight everything.”
“I would be a lot less ticked off if I knew they were getting a fabulous education, that the teachers weren’t walking out of school to protest every little thing,” Linda said. “I don’t see evidence that Seattle schools have made a lot of progress with my $11,000.”
Linda and her husband now contemplate how to pay the bill, and wonder if they should move as far away from King County taxes as they can.
“We are not happy with most the decisions going on in King County,” she said. “With this kind of bill, I don’t think we are getting our money’s worth for what we expect for city life and county life.”
Listen to Linda’s full conversation with Dori about King County taxes here.
- Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.