TACOMA, Wash. — Pierce County residents will be seeing an increase in their property taxes this month.
Depending on where in the county taxpayers live, they could see anywhere from a 4% to 20% increase.
Taxes on the average home will rise by 4% to 9% in Puyallup, Edgewood, Steilacoom, and DuPont.
The rest of the county will see an increase in the double digits.
Lakewood, University Place, Parkland-Spanaway and Fircrest areas will see the highest property tax increase at 20%
Tacoma and Gig Harbor taxes will each go up an average of 14%.
Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan said the 2020 tax increase is unlike anything he’s seen.
“I’ve been here seven years, and this is the largest increase in most districts I’ve seen,” he said.
Lonergan said that the increase can be contributed primarily to two factors: actions by the state Legislature in its continued response to the longstanding McCleary school funding legal battle and votes by local citizens to increase tax rates in various districts.
Tacoma resident Juan Garnica said he doesn’t mind the tax hike because he feels it is going to a good cause.
“I believe schooling is the only thing we’ve got,” said Garnica. “If we need to give them more money, give them more money.”
But Tacoma resident Georgia Pope disagreed, saying, "I don’t think it’s necessary. Utilities go up. Food has gone up so drastically. It is one more thing.”
The county will send out property tax statements on February 14, and payments will be due at the end of April and again at the end of October. Lonergan said the good news is it is likely that this will be the last time homeowners will see their property taxes fluctuate so drastically for years to come.
Lonergan said while the county’s assessed values continue to rise, that is not what is causing the big increase in property tax.
He said over 58% of the taxes his office collects goes to K-12 school funding.
“The Legislature’s previous limit of $1.50 per thousand dollars of property value on local school enrichment levies was increased to $2.50,” Lonergan explained, “and a 30-cent reduction in the state school levy has expired. So that’s a $1.30 per thousand increase to start with.”
Property owners who pay their taxes directly should look for a statement in the mail in mid-February, according to Pierce County.
Those whose taxes are paid out of mortgage accounts can look up their taxes online at piercecountywa.gov/atr beginning Feb. 1. The first half payment is due no later than April 30.
“It’s been kind of a rollercoaster ride with the legislature’s response to the McCleary Decision,” said Lonergan.
He encouraged homeowners to check their property tax amounts on the county website.