Jefferson County property values rise

Assessor says Port Townsend up by about 13 percent

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County property values are up about 8 percent across the board, and city residents likely will see a greater increase when they receive their notification from the county assessor’s office.

Change of value notifications are scheduled to be mailed today.

The total assessed value in neighboring Clallam County increased about 9 percent, with most property owners seeing increases.

Property owners who live within the city of Port Townsend will see an average 13 percent rise, County Assessor Jeff Chapman said Thursday.

Typically that means levy rates will go down and taxes will stay about the same, but rural areas will be harder hit by the state’s Legislature’s McCleary fix — which was implemented last year to address a state Supreme Court ruling that the state must adequately fund basic education — to pay for public education, Chapman said.

“The state schools will go up by that fixed rate instead of a 1 percent cap,” he said. “[State legislators] did that deliberately to pick up additional value.”

Chapman specified those in the Port Townsend School District as seeing a greater impact.

“They will have more of the share because they’re seeing more of an increase than in other rural areas,” he said.

“The overall levy rate in Port Townsend isn’t going to go down, it’s going to go up a little bit. Taxes in the city are likely to go up noticeably.”

The city and its commercial areas were the subjects of physical inspections this year, a process that rotates every six years, Chapman said.

“As we were evaluating the market trends in the city of Port Townsend, the city is still a very hot market for residences,” he said.

Some might go up in value between 10 percent and 20 percent, he said.

The rest of the county has an upward trend with a slower pace.

Port Ludlow residents might see an about 7 percent property value increase, while those who live in Quilcene and the Tri-Area might be closer to 6 percent, Chapman said.

Discovery Bay and Gardiner likely will be up about 4 percent, and Brinnon might see a 0.5 percent to 1 percent rise, Chapman said.

“A modest place in the city is now getting up over $300,000 to $400,000 with what might, at one time, could have been considered affordable housing,” he said.

Chapman’s inspectors canvassed the city and updated records. Next year, his staff will physically inspect the Brinnon school and fire districts as well as West Jefferson County.

“When we went on the system, the data wasn’t properly converted,” he said of property records within the city. “Some of the information we had was about eight years old.”

Chapman said any errors likely were to the taxpayers’ benefit.

“There might have been a deck or two that didn’t get picked up [and added to the system] six years ago,” he said.

“We put everything in our system, validated it, and came up with our cost values with all of the properties.”

The same amount of cash likely will buy a nicer home with landscaping in the unincorporated areas, Chapman said.

“But what you get in Port Townsend is that everybody wants to live here,” he said. “It’s the ambiance of living in Port Townsend.”

The commercial side had been flat for a few years, but it will see a sizable increase of between 20 and 30 percent, Chapman said.

There were a number of commercial sales that helped to set the market, he said.

“It isn’t really a one-year increase,” Chapman said. “It’s been more of a four- to five-year trend in commercial that we’re picking up this year.”

Property values reflect 100 percent of market value as of Jan. 1, 2019, plus any new construction through July 31. Taxable values are used to calculate 2020 taxes based on levies assessed by the state, city and county taxing districts, according to the assessor’s office.

Tax measures on the Nov. 5 general election ballot include the Port of Port Townsend’s Industrial Development District multi-year levy, the Jefferson County Parks & Recreation District No. 1 six-year levy, the Brinnon Fire Department bond and the Clallam/Jefferson County Fire District No. 3 Emergency Medical Services levy.

Chapman said his office will start some pre-calculations and modeling once the election is over and may have a good idea of where 2020 rates will stand by the end of November.

Those who wish to dispute the value may contact the county Board of Equalization within 30 days at 360-385-9100.

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].

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