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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

County to decide on property tax hike

Interim zoning enacted for possible Boeing plant

County commissioners considered a tax increase Tuesday and adopted an interim zoning ordinance they hope will lure a Boeing manufacturing plant.

The zoning ordinance would raise the height limit in light industrial zones throughout the county from 60 to 150 feet, matching the city of Spokane’s standard.

Boeing plans to increase production as it rolls out a more fuel-efficient version of its 737 jetliner, to be known as the 737 MAX, and Greater Spokane Incorporated believes Spokane has a good chance of winning a production plant.

However, the company would need a building about 100 feet tall.

Spokane International Airport has several potential sites for a plant that officials say would not interfere with the airport or nearby Fairchild Air Force Base.

The interim zoning ordinance designates certain areas near Fairchild where the height maximum would be kept at 60 feet as a fail-safe measure to protect the base. Those sensitive areas also would be protected by airport overlay zones that add restrictions to the regular zoning, though the zones were designed to allow the county to move forward with the Geiger Corrections Center commissioners hope to build in the area.

The interim ordinance expires within six months unless extended or replaced by a permanent ordinance. State law requires a public hearing within 60 days.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners agreed to decide next week whether to pursue a state-allowed 1 percent increase in their property tax levies.

The increases, which would require a public hearing, would add an estimated $454,936 to the general fund, $173,363 to the road fund and $16,822 to the Conservation Futures fund.

Chief Executive Officer Marshall Farnell said property tax rates already will rise next year, on average, because overall property values are falling.

For example, he said this year’s general fund tax rate of nearly $1.20 per $1,000 of assessed value would rise to more than $1.22 even if the levy remains unchanged. The rate would rise to nearly $1.24 per thousand if commissioners take the maximum 1 percent increase.

If the road and Conservation Futures levies also rose 1 percent, the total increase would be an estimated 2.7 cents per thousand over the rate that otherwise would apply next year.