Change in valuations - up for some, down for others

San Juan County Assessor's Office mailed out change in valuation notices earlier this year. Property owners whose property has increased or decreased in value have been notified. If your property's value did not change, you did not receive a notice. 

An informal poll, revealed some property owners received notices that showed values down significantly. One property valued at $150,000 in 2011 is now valued at $80,000. Another valued at more than $500,000 in 2011 is now valued at $390,000. Another property, that the owner says is worth $360,000 is assessed at half that amount. 

Other property owners are reporting increases of $8,000, $30,000 and more.

Assessor John Kulseth said the county switched to an annual valuation cycle from the previous system where one third of the county was assessed every year. That system wasn't fair, especially when the recession hit. While Lopez Island and San Juan Island property owners saw their property values decrease, Orcas Island property owners - who were revaluated in 2008 -  were stuck paying property taxes based on assessments that didn't reflect the property crash until they were assessed again in 2011.   

Kulseth said the recent valuations reflect sales activity recorded in 2017 and the first part of 2018. In areas where no sales have occurred it is more difficult for assessors to determine the proper valuation. 

The state checks on each county's assessments by looking at  real estate transactions from June to May. The state compares the sales prices against the assessed values. Adjustments are made in the property tax rates of the state portion of property taxes accordingly to make sure taxes are being paid based on fair market value.

For example, the recently enacted State Levy Part  for education is $2.70 per thousand dollars of assessed value. The Department of Revenue determined that San Juan County assessed values were below fair market value by 7.6%. In other words, the properties in San Juan County sold for more than the assessed value. Therefore San Juan County property owners will pay $2.90 per thousand dollars of assessed value. 

Kulseth said some counties are paying more than $3.00. 

If you think the valuation of your property is incorrect, email the county's assessor's office. Contact information and a link to the department's email address is available on the Assessor's web pages

A wealth of information is available on the county's website

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