What’s in the 2022 Levy Lid Lift?
The Quick Answer
The short answer is that Shoreline’s Proposition 1, if passed, will result in a roughly 48% increase in the total levy in 2023, followed by increases at the rate of inflation in the five years following that (2024-2028).
If that seems like a lot, it is!
The Text of the Proposition
The ballot measure for the proposition reads:
City of Shoreline
Proposition No. 1
Maintenance and Operations Levy for Public Safety and Community Services
The Shoreline City Council adopted Resolution No. 492 concerning a property tax levy for public safety and community services. If approved, this proposition restores Shoreline’s levy rate to help fund police/neighborhood services, including RADAR and crime prevention; preserves parks, trails, playgrounds/playfields; and provides human services.
This proposition sets Shoreline’s maximum regular property tax rate to $1.39/$1,000 for collection in 2023; sets the limit factor for levy increases in 2024-2028 at 100% plus annual inflation (Seattle CPI-U); uses the 2028 levy amount to calculate subsequent levy limits; and exempts qualifying seniors and persons with disabilities per RCW 84.36.381.
Should this proposition be approved? [yes or no]
On the Levy Rate
The current Levy Rate (for the 2022 tax year) is $1.13/$1,0002 — the proposed rate for 2023 ($1.39) is 23% higher. Housing prices have been skyrocketing, and we can expect roughly a 20% increase in assessed values in Shoreline between 2021 and 20223. (The 2021 assessments are used to compute the 2022 taxes, and the 2022 assessments are used to compute the 2023 taxes.) Should Prop 1 pass, the combination of the large increase in levy rate with the large increase in assessed values will result in about a 48% increase in total levy in 2023.
This is a permanent increase in the property tax levy, not just a one-time “goose”. Going forward, the levy limits in subsequent years are the previous year’s levy multiplied by a “limit factor". (Currently, the limit factor is based on the inflation rate.) This nearly 50% increase will be collected every year going forward.
On the Exemption for Qualifying Seniors and Persons with Disabilities
Note that according to RCW 84.36.381(5)(a) only those qualified senior citizens or veterans whose combined household income is under “threshold 3” are exempted from the Proposition 1 levy increases. “Threshold 3” is the lowest of the various thresholds of eligibility for exemption. As near as I can tell4, for 2021, 2022 and —at this point — 2023, threshold 3 specifies a combined disposable household income5 of $40,447 or less.
Somewhat amusingly the second paragraph of Section 2 of the full text of the measure begins:
The City Council shall determine the basic public safety programs and to fund a portion of the cost of maintaining and operating community services to be funded as well as the timing, order and manner of funding these programs and services. [...]
(What does that even mean?)↩
For assessment aggregation purposes, Shoreline is divided into three regions: Area 1 is Shoreline West of Aurora Ave, Area 2 runs between Aurora and I-5, and Area 3 is Shoreline East of I-5. The King County Assessor has published his 2022 Annual Report for Areas 2 and 3. From that (and the postcards from the Assessor that many of us have received by now) we know that total assessments have increased by 20.6% in Area 2 and by 22.1% in Area 3.
Here is a article in the Shoreline Area News about the increases in assessed values in Areas 2 and 3.
The Assessor's 2022 report for Area 1 has not yet been published, so we have to guess as to how much assessments will rise there. It seems not unreasonable to assume the increase will be similar to that in the other two areas of the City. Note that in 2021, assessments rose by 15.4%, 19.3%, and 14.7% in Areas 1, 2, and 3 respectively. (See the 2021 reports for areas 1 & 3 and area 2.)↩
There are some apparently stalled bills in the State legislature that would raise the RCW 84.36.381 income thresholds. However, as things currently stand, HB 1438 seems to specify that the thresholds will stay at the previous years’ values until at least August 2024.↩