School districts respond to coronavirus with property tax relief

By LIV FINNE  | 
Apr 14, 2020
BLOG

State government has closed all of Washington’s schools to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The families of over 1.1 million students are struggling to adjust. Many policy responses are possible, but some districts are already acting to help stressed families. The districts of Darrington, Everett, Ferndale, Lakewood and Sultan have responded by delivering property tax relief. They have just withdrawn the multi-million-dollar levy and bond property tax increases they had planned to submit for voter approval in the April 28th special election.

Property tax relief is needed. In 2017 the state Legislature passed a huge tax increase for schools, boosting the property tax from $1.89 to $2.40 per thousand dollars of assessed value. Of course, most people’s taxes go up by far more than just the rate increase because the “assessed value” of one’s home increases every year.

In 2018, lawmakers increased the state property tax rate again, this time by thirty cents to $2.70 per thousand. Then in 2019 the Legislature authorized school officials to increase local property taxes from $1.50 to $2.50 per thousand.

Remember, all these rate increases are cumulative, and they come on top of the rise in market values.

Together these three property tax increases dramatically raised the amount of money going to these and other school districts across the state.

Here are the numbers for these districts:

Darrington School District is spending $19,400 per student this year, up from $12,400 eight years ago. Average teacher pay and benefits are at $119,400.

Everett School District is spending $17,100 per student this year, up from $10,900 eight years ago. Average teacher pay and benefits are at $131,500.

Ferndale School District is spending $17,000 per student this year, up from $10,800 eight years ago. Average teacher pay and benefits are at $118,300.

Lakewood School District is spending $16,400 per student this year, up from $10,200 eight years ago. Average teacher pay and benefits are at $117,100.

Sultan School District is spending $16,800 per student this year, up from $10,700 eight years ago. Average teacher pay and benefits are at $119,200.

These districts have responded to the corona virus by delivering property tax relief. They may ask for property tax increases in the future, but for now they are providing sorely needed tax relief to hard-pressed families.