In 2019 the average taxpayer in La Conner will pay $328.28 more in taxes than they should. Those living in the La Conner School District, outside La Conner, pay more.
This is caused by a tax shift that has been in effect since 2015. The shift was generated by the Great Wolf Lodge decision, which gave the Swinomish Tribe the right to collect taxes from its property at Shelter Bay and Pull And Be Damned.
Washington laws are silent about taxes when a taxing district loses a portion of its tax base. There is no statute that authorizes the assessor to shift taxes from a district that disappears through court action. When a taxing district disappears, its taxes should disappear.
The assessor, on advice from the Department of Revenue, chose to shift the taxes from levy code that used to include Shelter Bay and Pull And Be Damned, and assigned them to other levy codes that make up the La Conner School District. Roughly $1.9 million in taxes were shifted in 2019. Skagit County roads, general fund and conservation account for $500,263 of the tax shift.
Four of the nine districts negotiated with the tribe to pay for services rendered: Fire District 13, La Conner School District, La Conner Library and Medic 1. These four enjoy a stipend from the tribe and benefit from the taxes that have been shifted. They do not deduct the tribe’s contribution from their annual levy request. They are double dipping.
I am writing to the county assessor, asking him to reverse the tax shift.
I am writing to Dave Paul, the 10th District representative, and asking him to draft legislation that would eliminate the tax shift.