City proposes property tax hike
By Tara Nelson
Blaine homeowners can anticipate a slight increase in their property taxes for the year 2009.
In their regular meeting Monday, Blaine City Council reviewed a proposed property tax levy that would increase property tax revenue by 1 percent – about a 4-cent increase per $1,000 of assessed home value – as much as state law will allow under voter-approved initiative 747.
The initiative, sponsored by Tim Eyman and passed in 2001, imposes a 1 percent limit on increases in revenue from property taxes, with the exception of taxes from new construction. Anti-taxation groups estimate the measure has saved taxpayers approximately $1 billion since it was passed with 58 percent voter approval. Others argue that amount is $1 billion that was cut from public services, programs and schools.
Blaine finance director Meredith Riley said the city is additionally capped at imposing a total, combined levy of $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed home value. That amount includes fire district and library levies, she said.
“After 2004, when the citizens voted to be in the fire district, the maximum amount we could collect is $3.60 per $1,000, but because the library district is allowed to impose .50 cents and the fire district can levy as much as $1.50, that leaves the city with a maximum levy of $1.60,” she said. “On a $200,000 home, that means the city would only get $320.”
Riley said the new mill rate would be $1.06 per $1,000, up 4 cents from last year’s rate of $1.02. A Blaine resident with a $200,000 home, for example, would see an increase of about $8 on their annual city property tax bill. She added that although assessed valuation figures won’t be available until the end of December, state law requires cities to pass levies by November. Depending on home values, that rate could fluctuate. “We don’t yet have those figures,“ she said. “All we know is that we are allowed to take 1 percent more than the previous year’s revenue.”