The Anacortes City Council will likely vote on Tuesday, Nov. 12, to approve a 1% increase in the local property tax.
The council normally meets on Mondays, but meets on Tuesday next week because Monday is Veterans Day.
Property taxes are expected to generate $5.1 million this year for general government services — administration, fire, police, parks — and are the city’s single largest governmental revenue stream, according to Mayor Laurie Gere’s budget message in the 2019-20 biennial budget adopted at the end of 2018.
The tax increase will generate an additional $51,000 in revenue, Finance Director Steve Hoglund told the council on Monday.
State law limits annual property tax increases to 1%.
“I think it’s useful to point out when we consider the 1% property tax increase, as we do every year, that 1% is generally less than inflation,” Councilman Ryan Walters said. “So in real dollars, property taxes as a function of the city budget are generally going downward … Meanwhile, the city needs to provide services.”
Councilwoman Carolyn Moulton said the increase would amount to $6.02 a year for the owner of a property assessed at the average valuation of $428,200.
Property owners currently pay a property tax of $1.40 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.
The city had total revenues of $62.3 million in 2018 and total expenses of $55.5 million, for a net balance of $6.8 million that was transferred to the city reserves, according to Hoglund.
Walters said Tuesday that property taxes and sales taxes are two major sources of revenue for the city; of the two, property tax revenue is stable while sales tax revenue can fluctuate with the economy.
Sara Holahan, an Anacortes resident who ran for City Council in the primary, supported the 1% increase.
“It’s very difficult for us to have good service when we’re so restricted” in taxation ability, she said. “And the increase is only $6 on average.”