Most Cowlitz County residents will get lower property tax bills this year, but that’s because the value of many homes has dropped.
About 63 percent of all property owners will see a decrease in their bills, and another 7 percent will see no change from last year, said Assessor Terry McLaughlin.
Bills were mailed out Tuesday and should arrive by Thursday.
Many homes now are worth less than they were the previous year, and in some cases values are decreasing faster than tax rates are increasing.
“I actually was surprised that many (bills) decreased or stayed the same,” McLaughlin said Monday. “I didn’t expect it.”
Last year about 53 percent of tax bills increased, either due to increased tax rates or new levies or bonds.
Property values were mailed out in July. The county’s overall property valued dropped $500 million, the biggest drop in four straight years of declines due to the struggling housing market.
Despite the overall decline in real estate values, not every property tax bill is lower this year. About 8.5 percent of owners will pay more. Increases are usually due to an increase in a property’s value or new voter-approved bonds or levies.
In Castle Rock, for example, the library levy approved in February will be collected this year, adding another 48 cents per $1,000 of value. In Woodland, school district voters approved a bond for a new high school in April that added $1.60 per $1,000 in assessed value.
Taxes are split into two payments a year, in April and in October.