The assessor’s offices in both Clallam and Jefferson counties have sent valuation notices to property owners, and both areas saw a significant rise in the past year.
Though many property owners are likely to see an increase in their assessed value, officials in both counties said that would have little effect on property taxes.
“If we put a 40 percent increase on the property, they’re not going to see a 40 percent increase on their taxes,” said Lori Kuss, Clallam County’s chief deputy assessor. “In an accelerated market, we’re required to value properties accordingly. The market’s been quite accelerated the last few years.”
Clallam County’s valuations have increased by an average of 25 percent from 2022 to 2023, according to a news release from the assessor’s office.
Kuss said county appraisers do their best to asses properties at a fair market value, and prices are calculated based on the data available to them. Sometimes properties are undervalued, Kuss said, but then new data — such as the sale of a similar property nearby — allow assessors to record a more accurate valuation.
“We’re not overassessing, but it is mass appraisal,” Kuss said. “If people have questions or concerns about the information we have on their property, it’s important to reach out to make sure the information is correct.”
Jefferson County saw a similar increase in valuations, said Assessor Jeff Chapman, who added the county’s median home value increased by 23 percent after averaging about 8 to 10 percent in the past four years.
The Washington Office of Financial Management, which tracks prices statewide, said the median home price in the state in 2021 was $560,400, a 23 percent increase over the previous year.
“They’re saying (home values in Jefferson County) went up 24 percent, and that’s exactly what I’m finding,” Chapman said, referring to OFM data. “Values are going up from 20 to 30 percent across the county.”
Officials in both counties noted the taxes property owners pay is calculated by a number of factors, property value being only one of them.
“Taxes typically will not increase based on an average assessed value increase but may depending on recently voted measures, taxing districts’ budgets, and amount of value change compared to the average changes,” the Clallam County Assessor’s Office said.
In Jefferson County, some property owners may see an increase in home values, but their local tax levy rate might actually drop, Chapman said, depending on which taxing district the owner is in.
Chapman said this year Jefferson County chose to send the valuation notice as a letter to property owners, rather than in postcard form typical in past years, to explain the valuation’s impact on taxes.
Having the updated valuations for the county allows taxing districts to better estimate how much revenue they can expect in the coming year, Chapman said.
Statewide data for 2022 is not yet available, but according to OFM, median home prices in the state rose by 150 percent from 2011 to 2021. Chapman said he’d never seen a valuation increase by that much in his career but said he’d seen values fall by similar amounts during the 2009 recession.
Property owners have 30 days to appeal their valuation to their county Board of Equalization.
Jefferson County’s letter were sent Oct. 14. Chapman said recipients have until Nov. 14 to file an appeal.
Clallam County’s letters were mailed Monday with a deadline of Nov. 16 to file an appeal.
The Clallam County BOE website suggests contacting the Assessor’s Office prior to filing an appeal, as the assessor may be able to address concerns without an appeal.
According to the Jefferson County BOE, “to successfully appeal the assessed value of the property, you must show by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence the value established by the Assessor, as of the assessment date, is incorrect.”
The Clallam County Assessor’s Office can be reached at 360-417-2400 and Jefferson County’s at 360-385-9105.
Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at email@example.com.