Sticker shock: Pierce County property taxes jump and residents aren't happy

There is sticker shock around the state as property tax bills come out. (Photo: KOMO News)

TACOMA, Wash. -- There is sticker shock across the state as new property tax bills show up this week. Many homeowners are seeing big jumps due to the Legislature's mandate from the State Supreme Court to fully fund education.

Increases in Pierce county include Sumner on the high end at 22 percent. Tacoma is at 12 percent. On the low end are Lakewood and Puyallup with 6 and 7 percent respectively.

The phone lines into the Pierce County Assessor's Office are lighting up with people calling from homes that are now costing them more as property taxes jump.

The new statements are about to go in the mail and reach you by the end of the week, but you can see them right now. Said Mike Lonergan, Pierce County assessor, "We have them posted online right now, and people are already looking them up, and there is some sticker shock."

Lonergan says it's due to a "perfect storm" of a confluence of two taxes being collected at the same time. He says the state Legislature voted to change the way we collect school levy money. It's now all done at the state level rather than the local level.

But the two taxes -- the levies and the tax to satisfy the Supreme Court -- are one on top of the other because of timing for each is different. "The overlap of the two taxing systems, so it is the high water mark for our local citizens and their property taxes," said Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier.

"It's ridiculous," said Don, a Tacoma home owner. "Between that and the RTA. I was going to buy a new car and I won't do it." He's talking about the car tab taxes to fund the sound transit three projects such as light rail.

Jim Krager of Edgewood heard about the jump. He was at the Assessor's Office hoping to get a senior reduction. He said his property tax is jumping $600. "That would be $4,200 a year,and since I'm on a fixed income, I would almost be forced to sell my home," said Krager.

But the assessor and county executive say this is only for one year. They say the current levies will go away, and only the new one will remain.

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