Why Are My Property Taxes So High?

President’s Report 
by Tim Mathes timcm@wavecable.com

Why are my property taxes so high?  Many visitors to the board of equalization have asked me that question. This is what I tell them.

Three of the largest components for our property taxes being so high are land use regulations, zoning ordinances, and building restrictions voted for by our state and local elected representatives. The cost per building site that is attributed to planning regulations in Kitsap range from $130,000 to $180,000. In Seattle, they are well in excess of $225,000. Do we really want to follow Seattle and The Puget Sound Regional Coordinating Council (PSRC) to a more regulated world?

We already have a supply and demand problem here in Kitsap caused by over regulation. The “Year of the Rural” is a scheme that will direct Kitsap County regulators to re- zone much of Kitsap semi urban areas and create new large rural areas. This will give us fewer options on land to develop and further drive up the cost of homes. The “Year of the Rural” is an example of how our unelected bureaucrats (Department of Ecology, Department of Community Development and others) can cost us money and never face the consequences of their actions at election time. They simply add more regulations, saying the people request it.

Property that is tax exempt is another big contributor to high property taxes. Some say up to 35% of Kitsap County is owned or controlled by city and county government.  Add to that total, all state and federal lands, tribal lands and school property that do not pay property taxes, then you can see that there are not many privately owned lands left to be taxed. Kitsap has thousands of acres of county parks, and open spaces. The North Kitsap Commissioner is working on adding another 6000 North Kitsap acres to that total. In addition, our commissioners continue to pass laws that remove more property from the tax rolls. All that lost revenue will be collected from you and me. It is called a tax shift. Simply stated, every time your elected representatives give a tax break for open space, or buy more park property, or agree to add more regulations or restrictions that ultimately take property off the tax rolls, you and I make up the difference by  paying more property taxes. 

The state, counties, and cities are on the prowl looking for more money. You can bet they will continue their land accumulating ways, never admitting that it is a big part of our budget problem.

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