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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane County commissioners vote against raising property taxes

Dec. 1, 2022 Updated Thu., Dec. 22, 2022 at 2:26 p.m.

The Spokane County commissioners on Tuesday voted against raising property taxes. The move will save the median county homeowner about $7 in 2023 and cost the county $282,300 in revenue.   (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)
The Spokane County commissioners on Tuesday voted against raising property taxes. The move will save the median county homeowner about $7 in 2023 and cost the county $282,300 in revenue.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)

For just the second time in the last decade, the Spokane County commissioners have decided against raising property taxes.

Commissioners Mary Kuney, Al French and Josh Kerns on Tuesday unanimously voted against a 1% tax increase for 2023. The decision will save the median Spokane County homeowner about $7.

Washington law allows local governments to collect an additional 1% every year through their regular property tax. For example, if Spokane County collected $100 in 2022, it could collect $101 in 2023.

Most governments raise taxes by 1% annually. The Spokane City Council this week voted in favor of a tax increase, overriding Mayor Nadine Woodward’s veto. Spokane County, with the exception of 2019, has raised taxes every year since 2013.

Governments don’t have to take the 1%, however. The Spokane Valley City Council hasn’t raised property taxes in 14 years.

When cities or counties decline the 1% tax increase, they “bank” that 1% of taxing capacity. In other words, by foregoing the 1% for 2023, the county commissioners will have the right to raise taxes by about 2% next year.

The county commissioners on Tuesday said a 1% tax increase, which would have brought the county an additional $682,400, was unnecessary. For context, the county’s 2022 budget is $677 million.

“The county is in a good financial state right now,” Commissioner Al French said.

Commissioner Josh Kerns said he was “honored” to vote against the tax increase. County residents need all the financial help they can get right now, he said.

“We’re doing the best we can here,” Kerns said. “We’re going to deliver cost-effective, efficient government, and this year we’re going to do it without raising your taxes.”

Declining the 1% wasn’t the commissioners’ most significant tax decision on Tuesday. The commissioners also have decided against what’s referred to as the “road shift.” It allows governments to shift banked tax capacity from their road funds to their general funds.

The maneuver has allowed the commissioners to collect an additional $5 million to $6 million for the county’s general fund in seven of the last eight years.

By opting against the road shift and the 1% property tax increase, the Spokane County commissioners will save the median homeowner a combined $35 in 2023.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect how much a 1% property tax increase would have brought Spokane County in revenue for 2023. 

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