June 2, 2010 in City

70 percent of Spokane County houses drop in value

Assessor expects overall tax base to shrink for first time in decades
By The Spokesman-Review

Nearly 70 percent of the houses in Spokane County have declined in value, according to notices that homeowners began receiving Wednesday.

Chief Deputy Assessor Kevin Best said he and Assessor Ralph Baker believe the county’s overall tax base will shrink this year for the first time since 1974.

They won’t know until new-construction assessments are completed in mid-August, but Baker and Best expect overall property values to fall $500 million to $1 billion from last year’s level.

Their estimates are based on building permits that have been issued, but they don’t know how many of the projects actually will be built.

Best said about 210,000 notices were mailed Tuesday, including about 128,000 for single-family residences – the only category for which details were available. He said 69.7 percent of the houses, about 89,000 of them, lost value.

The rest of the houses were split almost evenly between those that remained flat in value and those that gained, Best said.

Overall, houses shed almost $993.5 million in value, a 4.1 percent reduction from last year’s $24.2 billion total. This year’s total home value, which will apply to next year’s taxes, is slightly more than $23.2 billion.

A drop or increase in property value doesn’t automatically signal a corresponding change in property taxes. Rather, tax bills vary according to a property owner’s share of the property value in government agencies’ territories and the amounts the agencies spend.

Baker said property owners who don’t receive notices by Thursday should contact his office at (509) 477-3698 or assessor@spokanecounty.org.

He urged those who think there is an error in their assessments to contact the appraiser listed on the notification cards. Baker said e-mail works best, but appraisers’ phone numbers also are listed on the cards.

People who still aren’t satisfied with their assessments have until July 1 to file appeals with the county Board of Equalization. Appeal forms are available on the assessor’s website.

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