Property taxes traditionally increase but in Spokane County, Washington just the opposite is happening. Spokane taxpayers are getting the largest drop in collected property taxes in the county’s history.
The lower taxes are the result of the state Supreme Court’s McClearly decision on public school funding and the legislature’s response to it.
The state Supreme Court ruled that Washington was failing to sufficiently fund education, as required by the state constitution. In order to fix that problem and comply with the court's ruling, lawmakers issued a new statewide education levy.
That levy brought in more money than expected, thanks to increasing property values. So this year, the state is making an adjustment and decreasing the statewide levy rate by 30 cents per $1,000 of property value.
Spokane County property values increased by about $4 billion this year. The total assessed value for the county in 2018 was about $45.6 billion. In 2019, the value is about $49.7 billion. Nevertheless, the increase is not enough to offset the McCleary-related decreases.
There are a few other factors at play, too. County, city, and road levies are slightly decreasing for the most part to offset increases in property value. Naturally, individual tax bills will vary and there are no assurances that property taxes will decrease again in 2020.