Mercer Island Property Tax: Schools, City, & Ferry

The Mercer Island property tax rate is of $7.16 per $1,000, or about 0.7% of property value. For a $500,000 house, that’s about $3,600 per year.

Our property tax is really 9 different kinds of property tax, with schools taxes the largest amount and city and county taxes following. In 2008, it breaks down like this:

Mercer Island’s rate is in the low range of King County property tax rates, in line with communities like Bellevue and Yarrow Point, according to the tax assessor. This is because cities with more expensive homes can get plenty of revenue with lower rates.

Tax Rates Down, Tax Bills Going Up

The good news is that Mercer Island’s rate has decreased over the last four years, from $8.6 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2005 to the current $7.16. Of course, house values in the Seattle area have increased 36% since January of 2005, according to the Case-Schiller index. This means your property tax bill has probably increased since 2005.

Breaking the different school rates into their major parts: school, city, county, library, and grab-bag (port, ferry, EMS, flood), we see that each type of property tax rate came down in 2007, except for the grab bag.

Handy comparison chart thanks to Tableau Software.

EMS saw a rate increase of about 50%. It’s hard to argue with EMS– I want ambulances to be as fast and well-trained as possible. Flood and ferry property tax rates are new in 2008, together contributing about $0.155 in tax per $1,000 of assessed value. For a $500,000 house, that’s $78 per year in additional taxes.

A ferry tax? There hasn’t been a ferry on Mercer Island since the Dawn, but maybe if I-90 gets tolled we can lobby for the Washington State Ferry system to get us a new one.

Mercer Island data is from the Mercer Island City Council.

UPDATE: KOMO News published this story about Puget Sound mayors reacting to the financial crisis, saying:
“The problem is simple, even on Mercer Island. Money from property taxes won’t keep pace with inflation. The total property tax can only increase one percent a year. Inflation is running at five times that.”


3 responses to “Mercer Island Property Tax: Schools, City, & Ferry

  1. Good for you in looking at local taxes in there entirety and for differentiating between tax rate (decrease) and money out of the pocket (increase). I tend to think utilities should be included in the local tax pie. Another flaw in the analysis is the average home price. According to the Department of Assessment, the average price of a MI home is $1.1M, as of 12/31/07. Everyone uses $1M thereby underestimating tax estimates by about 10%. Another relationship we should be on our guard is if MI valuations increase faster (or decrease slower) than the rest of King County. If so, we’ll experience a larger proportion of the County taxes.

  2. mercerislandblogger

    Good points, Mike. Agreed on utilities- there is a usage element there, of course, but the rates vary locally as do property taxes.

    And I’ll be interested to see how the average assessed value of an MI home changes at 12/31/08. I would bet the assessed value will increase, even though market values are slight down or, at best, flat. That means property taxes will go up just as the economy is turning down.

  3. Pingback: Mercer Island 2009 Budget and Our Property Tax « Surrounded By Water: A Mercer Island Blog

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