Jefferson County commissioners approve ad valorem tax levies

Levy rate expected to drop

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County commissioners have unanimously passed a number of ad valorem tax levies as well as approved a diversion of the road levy fund for traffic law enforcement for the 2023 general fund.

County staff had proposed a 1 percent increase to the general fund, county roads and conservation futures fund, in addition to any amount resulting from new construction and improvements to property before Monday’s vote.

“Each year all of our taxing districts run levies. Some are regular levies, which means they are limited to 1 percent each year plus new construction and improvement,” said Jefferson County Assessor Jeff Chapman.

In an email, Chapman provided information about the general fund.

“The 1 percent ($86,477.51) plus new construction ($115,488.55) plus increase in state-assessed utilities ($1,035.75) equals $203,001.81 in new taxes. This is typically a plus or minus 2 percent total increase. This year it is 2.3 percent so $8,647,750.84 plus $203,001.75 equalling about $8.85 million levy,” Chapman said.

County Roads and Conservation Futures levies work similarly.

The 2022 actual amount for roads is estimated at $4.8 million with the 1 percent increase ($48,321.01) plus new construction ($69,969.22) plus refunds ($2,723.93) totaling $4.9 million for 2023.

However, that amount will come down to about $4.3 million following the diversion of about $620,000 to the general fund for Traffic Law Enforcement Services.

State law allows the county to divert a portion of the county road property taxes to the general fund to provide traffic law enforcement services in the incorporated parts of the county.

Jefferson County Administrator Mark McCauley said that is significantly less than the actual cost for those services, although he did not specify the actual cost and could not be reached for comment later.

The Conservation Futures levy will be about $270,300.

The actual amount for 2022 is estimated at $259,039.92 plus 1 percent ($2,590.40) plus new construction ($3,466.22) plus an estimated $164.79 in refunds.

The refunds are due to collections from prior years that taxing districts can recover without exceeding the levy limits.

“The refunds basically come from under-collections for prior years from what was certified to be collected,” Chapman said.

“This includes net adjustments with refunds. There are ongoing corrections for prior years going on throughout the year due to changes such as post-certification applications of new senior citizen exemptions or manifest errors as well as delinquent taxes.

“The law allows for corrections up to three years back,” he continued. “In many cases, tax districts can recoup these losses through additions to the levies if they have the ability to do so without exceeding the levy statutory limits.”

The county is projecting the levy rate to drop to around $1.03 per $1,000 assessed valuation from $1.22 per $1,000.

“This is because the new higher assessed values result in a lower levy rate, which will produce the increase in the collection amount covered above,” Chapman said.

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Ken Park can be reached at kpark@soundpublishing.com.

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