Increased Property Assessments Could Result from PO Comp Plan Update

At more than 65 pages and more than 20,000 kilobytes in its electronic version, the City of Port Orchard’s draft comprehensive plan update is not exactly light bedside reading.
But the document, released to the public Monday, contains proposed goals and policies that will affect where people live and work, how they get around the city, the services they receive and the taxes they pay, among other issues. That’s why city officials are seeking citizen input on the plan now through its adoption by the city council in December.

One issue that’s likely to get close scrutiny is the potential effect of the new plan on taxpayers whose properties are rezoned to reflect revised policies on growth and economic development.
A change in zoning — for example from residential to commercial — could trigger an increase in assessed value, explained Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery on Tuesday, but only if development in the surrounding area were to drive up the market value of the property.

For example, Avery explained, some properties on the Bethel Corridor did not see a significant increase in assessed value for some time after the area was rezoned commercial. Extension of the sewer line and the arrival of Fred Meyer were two factors assessors used to determine that the properties in question could now be sold for a significantly larger amount and so should be assessed at a higher value.

“There is a potential effect,” Avery said. “Is it automatic? We like to think we use some rationale when we revalue.”

A residential building in a commercial zone would not be protected from being assessed at the commercial rate simply because it was not being used as commercial property. Assessments are based on the property’s “highest and best use.”
If the increase in assessed value was greater as a result of the zoning change than others in the county, then taxes would go up as that rezoned property would be assuming a larger share of the tax burden, Avery said.
The draft comp plan is available in hard copy for $25 or as a DVD for $5 at City Hall. A free copy is available at www.portorchard.us.

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