A county property tax levy is collected twice a year to fund government operations. It is calculated based upon your property's "assessed valuation" as determined by the county assessor. Property tax is a primary revenue source for county and other local governments such as school, hospital and fire districts.
Assessed valuation is the county assessor's legal determination of what your property is worth, not necessarily what a buyer would pay. Your county property tax levy and other special taxing district levies are based on it. So if your property is assessed at $100,000 and the county's property tax is $1.07 "per $1,000 assessed valuation," then you owe $107.
Location, Location, Location
Your county property tax levy varies depending on where you are and what additional bonds or levies voters have approved. If you live in the city, for example, you will pay the county property tax (along with a city property tax) but not the county road tax or the fire district property tax. Your friend across town might pay more because in addition to those taxes, his school district passed a construction bond.
Figuring Your County Property Tax Levy
Once you know your property's assessed valuation and its location within various taxing districts, you can calculate your property tax (if you know each district's property tax rate). Let's say the county property tax rate is $1.07 per $1,000 assessed valuation. So you pay $107 based on your $100,000 property, but that's not your entire tax bill.
Suppose your property also is within the hospital district, which levies "44 cents per $1,000," the library district which levies 31 cents, and the school district which levies $2.25. So your total property tax bill, including your county property tax levy, is $407 a year.
Brian Gawley has been a daily and weekly newspaper reporter since 1989, working for the "Whitman County Gazette," "Columbia Basin Herald," "Grand Coulee Star," "Peninsula Daily News" and "Sequim Gazette." Gawley is a Washington State University Honors Program graduate with a bachelor's degree in communications and a national research paper award winner.