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Cowlitz County commissioners skip 1% property tax increase; approve Woodland subdivision plan

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County Administration Building exterior stock

The Cowlitz County Administration Building is pictured in this TDN file photo in 2018. 

Cowlitz County commissioners Tuesday approved a resolution to not increase the property tax levy by 1% and to bank the capacity for the future.

The commissioners also decided not to shift any money from the road fund to the general fund as they have for the past several years to help cover shortfalls.

The county set the property tax levy amount at about $19.7 million, including new construction and the refund levy. Without including the road fund shift or the refund levy, the property tax levy will bring in more than 2021’s $18.8 million levy amount.

Cowlitz County commissioners approve 1% property tax increase

The road fund levy, including new construction and the refund levy, will bring in about $13.1 million. Not shifting any money out of the road fund will allow public works to do some major road projects and have matching funds for federal and state grants, said Traci Jackson, administrative services manager.

This year, the county had COVID-19 relief money and high sales tax revenues to help maintain a healthy fund balance without having to shift, Jackson said. Sales tax revenue is likely high because of the influx of relief money, increased unemployment benefits and more people spending money locally, she said. Sales tax revenue likely will drop off through the next year as those programs end, Jackson said.

Property tax bills include several taxing districts and vary depending on location. Even if levy rates decrease, property tax bills may not be smaller if a resident’s assessed value increases.

Woodland subdivision

In other business, the commissioners approved the preliminary plat application for a 14-lot subdivision south of Woodland and an amendment to the comprehensive plan reclassifying the area.

Chilton Development Services, on behalf of property owner Benno Dobbe, plans to develop the 32-acre site off South Pekin Road near the Lewis River into 14 two- to three-acre lots with an open space tract adjacent to the dike. The development, “Tulip Meadows 2,” is an extension of the 19-lot Tulip Meadows subdivision, located just north of the new site.

The new lots will have individual septic systems and be connected to a Group A shared well water system set up for the first Tulip Meadows development, said Jason Lugo, associate community planner.

Cowlitz County commissioners approve 2021 budget amendment Tuesday

The applicant also requested the 73.3 acres that include both subdivisions to be reclassified from “smallholdings” to “rural” in the county’s Comprehensive Plan. Smallholding areas have a five-acre minimum lot size, compared to two acres under the rural designation.

The planning commission unanimously voted to recommend the project with the condition the open space tract abutting the dike may be used for public access in the future, Lugo said.

Houses are under construction on several lots at the first Tulip Meadows subdivision right now, said Nick Little with Chilton Development.

Property owner Dobbe said he only has good things to say about the first phase of the development and is excited to add the additional lots.

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