A proposal to increase City of Lynnwood 2024 property taxes by 22.3% drew concerns from councilmembers and the public during the city council’s Monday, Nov. 20 meeting.
Lynnwood Finance Director Michelle Meyer gave the board a brief overview of the levy, although she said most should already be familiar with it as the council voted on the matter in 2022 when the 2023-24 biennial budget was approved.
The $5.5 million proposed levy would increase property tax rates by roughly 22.3%. If approved by council, Meyer said that annual tax rate will increase to roughly $338, slightly less than $5 more a month.
“Right now, the average homeowner pays about $280 to the City of Lynnwood,” Meyer said, based on a home appraised at around $643,000 — Lynnwood’s current average home value.
The proposed 2023-24 biennial budget called for the property tax rate to increase from $4.5 million to $5 million in 2023, but councilmembers voted last November not to increase the rates, stating they felt the citizens needed a tax break.
The city’s approved biennial budget was based on the expectation that property taxes would continue to increase by $500,000 each year. Now, the proposed levy for 2024 would increase those taxes by $1 million starting in 2024 since they remained the same in 2023 — a startling jump that some councilmembers voiced concerns about.
“To say that we’re going to increase property taxes by 22% is really a stunner,” Councilmember George Hurst said. “I understand that we have inflation and it impacts not only residents, but it impacts the city. I can foresee some kind of increase, but a 22% increase is a lot.”
While no public comments were shared in favor of the increase, Glenn Bowers voiced specific concerns regarding how some city tax dollars have been used in the past few years. Bowers cited two instances since 2020 that have resulted in the loss of roughly $2.2 million in tax dollars due to the city’s negligence — a lawsuit following a death in the jail and a fine by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because the city’s wastewater facility violated treatment standards.
“It doesn’t feel right to me to be asked to pay more when it doesn’t seem like the city is doing well with the money that we’ve already trusted you with,” he said.
Bowers said he’s worried that such negligence, combined with the rapidly increasing inflation, will force many Lynnwood residents to leave the area because they cannot afford the rising taxes along with the prices of food and other necessities.
The city council is expected to vote on the 2024 property tax levy increase at its Monday, Nov. 27 business meeting.
–By Lauren Reichenbach