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Pink envelopes not so sweet for property owners

By CHARLIE BERMANT

Kitsap County writer

In what has become a local tradition, Kitsap County property owners will receive their tax statements this week in a pink envelope — essentially a loveless valentine.

Kitsap County Treasurer Barbara Stephenson said property owners with a tax bill less than $50 must pay the full amount by April 30.

All others can pay half at that time and the remainder by Oct. 31.

Stephenson said the greatest difference in this year’s property tax process is the use of a local bank as a tax-fulfillment “lockbox” — in this case a Bremerton branch of Kitsap Bank.

“For about 16 years there hasn’t been a local bank capable of providing this service,” Stephenson said. “A lot of people wondered why they were sending their taxes to some place in Seattle.” 

Stephenson said that contracting the process to an outside agency helped to keep the treasurer’s office staff smaller and more efficient.

Other than the mail-in location, Stephenson said the process is basically unchanged. There is a two-year history, to track the rise (and in some cases, the decrease) of tax amounts.

The tax statements paid by mortgage companies are so indicated by an “information only” stamp.

Even so, Stephenson said that property owners who have refinanced or paid off their mortgage in the past year should verify their tax status by calling the treasurer’s office or checking the Web site.

The treasurer’s office will send out about 115,000 notices this week, adding up to more than $285.4 million in collected taxes.

This is distributed with more than $26 million into the county general fund, about $816,000 for mental health services, about $326,000 to veterans services, and approximately $1.1 million to conservation services. $23.6 million goes to the road fund, with approximately $1.4 million of this routed to the general fund.

The remainder is distributed to the state, the school districts, the fire districts, emergency services, the Public Utility District and miscellaneous funds like library districts and water districts.

Those living within the county’s four cities pay a percentage to the cities.

In unincorporated areas, each tax dollar is broken down to 9.1 cents, general fund; 12.9 cents, county roads; 23 cents, education (state); 28.7 cents educaiton (local); 17.8 cents, fire and emergency; 8.5, other.

Any property owner who does not receive a statement can contact the treasurer’s office directly at (360) 337-7135.

Beyond that, anyone who does not receive or misplaces their tax bill can print it out from the county Web site, www.kitsapgov.com/treas, and send the bill to P.O. Box 299, Bremerton, WA 98337.

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