By Jack Mayne 
SeaTac property taxes are going up slightly more than 18 percent this year but the King County Assessor says not to blame the SeaTac city government – blame the Washington Legislature for approving the new school financing scheme resulting from the state Supreme Courts’ so-called McCleary decision.
The exact SeaTac increase is 18.07 percent, a tiny bit less than Burien’s 18.08 percent increase, but a lot lower than Des Moines’ 20.66 and much more than Kent’s 15.4 percent. Tukwila’s property tax rate is up 17.17 percent for 2018.
The median price for a home in SeaTac was $251,000 but has increased in 2018 to $291,000, resulting in a median home tax increase from $3,327 to 3,928 this year.
Countywide ‘about 17 percent’
King County Assessor John Arthur Wilson says that county-wide property taxes will increase “about 17 percent on average this year, primarily due to additional taxes passed by the Legislature to increase funding for K-12 education.
“About 57 percent of property tax revenues collected in King County pays for schools. Property taxes also fund voter-approved measures for veterans and seniors, fire protection, and parks among other services,” Wilson says.
Wealthy Normandy Park has the lowest property tax growth rate, at 9.06 percent. Wilson said that the homes in the wealthy community have maintained their previous values and so there was only a small change.
Tax increase percentages of nearby communities have gone up more than Normandy Park. Des Moines property taxes are increasing almost 21 percent, Kent is up 15 percent, and Tukwila up 17 percent.
The biggest tax rate hits was for the east King County city of Carnation, where the it skyrocketed to 37.47 percent.
Importantly, remember the value of your home and your property is going up because of a hot county-wide real estate market, desirability of airport workers to live close by and the quickly developing hotel construction pace.
But, a huge reason for the hike is the fact that after years of being told by the Washington Supreme Court the Washington Legislature had to respond to the court’s declaration that it was unconstitutionally supporting the common school.
Legislature wrote new tax code
“The State Supreme Court ruled that the state must make new investments into public education; as a result the legislature added $1.01 per thousand dollars of assessed value, in King County, to their portion of property tax collection in order to fund the mandate,” says Wilson.
Some city officials have worried the property tax increase could increase the number of homeless in SeaTac if poorer residents are unable to pay the added taxes. Assessor Wilson agrees.
“We know that property taxes can be especially tough for those on fixed incomes,” said Assessor Wilson, adding his department has been “aggressively reaching out to seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners with the property tax exemption program.”
Low-income seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners may qualify for a property-tax exemption offered by King County. Information on how to apply for an exemption, along with other property-assessment-related information, can be found at kingcounty.gov/assessor. Property taxes vary depending upon location, the assessed value of the property, and the number of jurisdictions levying taxes (such as state, city, county, school district, port, fire district, etc.).
With property taxes going up 16.92 percent on average, that means countywide property tax billings will be $5.6 billion in 2018, up from $4.8 billion last year. Aggregate property values in King County increased by 13.41 percent, going from $471.5 billion in 2017 to $534.7 billion in 2018.
To avoid interest and penalties, the first half property taxes must be paid or postmarked by April 30, 2018. The second half property taxes must be paid or postmarked by Oct. 31, 2018.
To view the full report, click here  (PDF file).