Recently we all got our tax statements and many of us had questions about the rise in taxes. A majority of the increase may be attributed to the fire district created by approval of nearly 70% of the voters in the proposed district in November of 2013. Another surprise was the increase in assessed valuation which would have driven up taxes above last year’s rate even without the fire district. As our economy improves the taxable valuation will increase—in a word, our property is worth more.
There have been some misconceptions about the way property is taxed—one that surfaced recently was that taxes are based on “a house and 5 acres.” This may have been the case years ago in a different part of the state but it is not the method used in Deschutes and Crook County. Taxes are calculated on all land and improvements. Land classification allows different values to be applied to different types of land. For instance, the assessed value of farm land with no improvements is far lower than a parcel used for residential purposes. The amount and value of structures or improvements on the land will also increase the assessed value. The only “control” a taxing entity (school, police, fire, road district etc.) has is the fixed rate. This rate is calculated on individual budgetary needs and is set at the time of the vote which created the district. In Alfalfa’s case, the tax rate was set at $1.75 per thousand of assessed value and was voted on in the November 2013 election that created the fire district. To get any money above the fixed rate we would need to appeal to the voters in the district by way of an additional bond levy or local option tax which is then voted on in a future election.
Current fire districts within Deschutes County have tax rates (and bond levies) that total anywhere from a low of $1.55/thousand to a high of $3.03/thousand with the average being $2.11/thousand. Alfalfa currently has a tax rate of $1.75/thousand or $.20 more than the lowest and $.36 less than the average. It is up to us to live within our established budget rather than asking for more money. Not a small task when considering we are starting quite literally with nothing.
If you have other questions they can be addressed by the County Assessor for a more complete or technical explanation. The Deschutes County Assessor can be reached at 541-388-6508 and the Crook County Assessor at 541-447-4133.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED—FIRE FIGHTER / EMERGENCY MEDICAL RESPONSE / SUPPORT GROUP
INTERESTED? CALL ONE OF THESE: 541-693-4184 (STEVE STENKAMP), 541-323-1781 (BOB KATHMAN), 541-306-8996(ROWAN HOLLITZ), 541-610-2999 (DAVID WARREN), 541-312-2600 (CAROLYN CHASE), OR 541-419-7985 (GARY HUGHES)