Lawmakers take action on ST3 split parcel problem

Hundreds of homeowners were forced to pay higher ST3 taxes, even though only part of their property is within the Sound Transit District. The state House has approved legislation that would close that loophole for good.

Lawmakers in the State House unanimously approved a bill that would prevent Sound Transit from imposing taxes on anything less than a whole parcel of land.

The 97-0, bipartisan vote on Wednesday evening is intended to address what's been a frustrating component of the property taxes imposed under Sound Transit Three, or ST3.

The problem?

285 property owners in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties are being forced to pay higher property taxes, even though only part of their property is within the Sound Transit District.

That's because their properties straddle the boundary line of the Sound Transit District.

"Ours is a sliver, just a sliver of land that sits inside the boundary line," said Snohomish homeowner Bill Steenis.  

What's worse, Steenis says, is that he didn't even get to vote on ST3.  It did not appear on his November ballot.

"I couldn't vote on it, so why should I pay for it?", he said.

After hearing those complaints, Representative Mark Harmsworth proposed House Bill 1958, which would prevent Sound Transit from imposing property taxes on anything less than a whole parcel.

"Taxation without representation is a bad thing.  We got rid of that a long time ago, and I would appreciate a yes vote on this," Harmsworth told his fellow lawmakers, while speaking on the House floor on Wednesday.

The 97-0 vote happened just moments later.

"I'm glad to hear it did pass," said Steenis.  "It was awfully silly to spend all that time and energy for Sound Transit to collect such a small amount of money."

A spokesperson for Sound Transit previously told KING 5 they are not opposed to the bill and feel that it's important to address the issue of properties that straddle the boundary line of the tax district.

House Bill 1958 now heads to the Senate.

ST3 is a 25-year, $54 billion tax package that will expand light rail service throughout King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.  The property tax portion of ST3 comes out to an increase of $25 per year  for every $100,000 of assessed home value.
 

© 2017 KING-TV


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