hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What We Pay For

I was cleaning up my desk a few minutes ago (I'm easily distracted, obviously) when I ran into some notes from a meeting last year.  One of the items was about property assessment and Whatcom County property taxes.  The reason I kept the notes is because it gave me the relative costs of various P.R. districts in terms of what we pay the districts for direct services.  But it was 2011 figures, so now I've had to look up the 2012 numbers and my desk is worse than it was before I started to clean it up.

We have five districts (Water, Cemetery, Hospital, Fire, and Park and Recreation).      The Water District does not receive a levy since users pay directly for the water costs.  The other Districts all have to go to the voters every so often to ask for funds to keep providing services and those costs show up as a levy rate against the assessed value of your house on your property tax bill.

Thus, if your house's assessed value is $100,000, you pay almost $90/year for the Fire District's services; $1/year for the Cemetery District's work; $40/year for the Hospital District's provision of clinic services; and $10/year for the Park and Recreation District's work (largely maintaining the Community Center and Baker Field).  (I've rounded these numbers to make it easier to keep in mind.)

If your houses' assessed value is closer to $300,000, then it's about three times those numbers, and so on.  In any case, it's really not very much.  The Fire District, until a couple of years ago, got only half as much as it does now.  In either case, it's a small amount of money per house.  And particularly considering what we get for the money.

If you were the owner of a modest, $100,000-assessed-value house here, would you pay $90/year to make sure that someone qualified responded to a 911 call for a fire or medical emergency?  Would you pay $40/year to make sure that you'd have a trained medical professional to see you for non-emergencies?  Would you pay $1/year to have a community cemetery?  Would you pay $10/year to have the Community Center available for meetings and events, for Seniors Services, for the Library?  I'd think most of us would pay more than that, and if we have bigger, fancier houses, we do.  But still, not a lot of money.

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