Bainbridge Island’s 2016 Property Taxes

The annual Valentine’s Day pink envelope from the Kitsap County Treasurer reflecting property assessments made by the Kitsap County Assessor arrived in island postal boxes just over one month ago. Tax statements are worthy of review and  comment because  they represent a significant financial obligation that provides the flow of money from citizen’s assets to the taxing districts doing whatever their taxing district directors and leaders decide to do with the collected funds.

Key observations from the 2016 tax statements:

Median value of a Bainbridge Island residential parcel increased from $486,295 to $535,555.

That’s a 10.1% one year increase. The average residential tax parcel increased in assessor tax value $134.95 a day in calendar year 2015.

Median value residential property tax is $5,746.

Two fees are added to property tax statements. . The City’s stormwater and water quality monitoring (SSWM) program fee of $146.76 and a noxious weed fee of $2.30 add $149.06 to most single family resident and condominium parcels. If the parcel has a second building with a roof exceeding 3,000 sq. ft. or the parcel is accessed by an unnamed  road serving  three or fewer properties and/or has a graveled parking area  (thank you City Council, City staff and Utility Advisory Committee for that very oddball decision), then a higher SSWM  fee might apply.

The Bainbridge Island median combined taxes and fees are $5,895 ($491.25/mo) for taxes due in 2016.

When doing financial planning, the concept of life cycle cost is often used. If tax rates do not go up for the next 20 years,  taxes and fees on a median valued Bainbridge Island residence in the next 20 years would total $117,900. That’s absolutely not going to happen, especially with the new school bonds and the possibility of a new public safety building and any number of other new possible bonds that a growing community will be asked to approve.

Previous posts have calculated the new school bonds will average somewhere between $455 and $559 a year (depends on the island’s growth rate) for the next 22 years alone.

Residents should plan for a median residential property tax and fee obligation of between $140,000 and $150,000 over the next 20 years.

Commercial parcels also continued their climb, but at a lower rate than residential properties … the figure for Bainbridge Island commercial parcels is is not detailed in the 2016 Kitsap County Assessment Book.

The median Bainbridge Island property tax percentage breakdown in order of magnitude (nearest whole %):

• Bainbridge Schools            28%    $1,631/yr    $ 136/mo        Total $18.8M

• State General Tax                22%    $1,261/yr    $ 105/mo        Total $14.5M

• Fire Department                  14%     $  820/yr     $ 68/mo           Total $ 9.5M

• City of Bainbridge Island  12%     $ 667/yr      $ 56/mo           Total $ 7.7M

• Kitsap County                        10%    $ 625/yr       $ 52/mo           Total $ 7.2M

• Bainbridge Park District       9%    $ 494/yr       $ 41/mo           Total $ 5.7M

• Kitsap Regional Library         4%   $ 204/yr       $ 17/mo           Total $ 2.7M

• Kitsap PUD                                  1%   $ 43/yr          $ 4/mo             Total $ 0.7M

Presently 56% of Washington State property taxes goes to schools. With the State’s constitutional issue of funding basic education in the McCleary case being muddled along in the state legislature , that funding percentage will likely increase, but it’s a complete unknown how that will effect either local school or state taxes. Pretty clear schools are going to get a lot more money, but where that is going to come from is the job of next year’s state legislature to finalize.

Probably the three most surprising facts in local Bainbridge Island property taxes:

Bainbridge Fire Department will receive roughly $1.8M more a year from property taxes than the City of Bainbridge Island. Residents are paying  for the additional manning and two new fire stations. The new fire stations will be paid off in 21 years.

Bainbridge Island residents pay $7.2M in taxes to Kitsap County … just a little less than the $7.7M to City of Bainbridge Island. Whether Bainbridge citizens are getting $7.2M in services from Kitsap County is worth questioning by City leaders, especially since any number of Kitsap County services Bainbridge citizens receive are paid for with additional City contracts.

City of Bainbridge Island receives only 12% of the parcel taxes collected from island properties.  But, the City has the authority to collect many other taxes. (Hope to provide a list in the future).

Exclusive of Bainbridge Island, KItsap County median property taxes are about $2,883. Present property taxes on Bainbridge Island are just shy of double those of the other cities and county properties in Kitsap County. 

Bainbridge Island is a high income small community, has miles of waterfront houses, a citizenry that rarely votes down any bond proposal no matter the cost, and has the real estate $$$ axiom of location, location, location. Relatively high property taxes are the result.



COBI Groundwater Monitoring Program: BIG Thank You COBI Water Utility Ratepayers!

The City of Bainbridge Island (COBI) has a groundwater monitoring program. That program monitors some 45 public and private wells to assess the water supply (aquifers) lying beneath the island.

Aspect Consulting is the paid consultant to assist COBI in the groundwater monitoring effort.

It’s not a terribly expensive program, and it provides informative data that is useful to all island citizens.

So why is this program appearing on this money blog?

It appears here because the 75% of island citizens who are not connected to the COBI water utility are getting a civic gift from those ratepayers.

The City pays for this program from the Water Utility Fund.

Is that proper?


Every citizen and business benefits equally from this program.

The groundwater monitoring should be funded from the General Fund, not the COBI Water Fund.

But for years our professional City staff (Finance Department) has continued to rip off COBI water ratepayers by funding this program from approximately 25% of the island who are water utility ratepayers. Add to that we have a Utility Advisory Committee, and they have turned a blind eye on groundwater monitoring funding from the Water Fund … any not just once, but a number of times. Looking out for utility ratepayer interests? Not happening.

Why is the City funding the groundwater monitoring from the Water Fund? Because there are millions of excess dollars sitting idle in the Water Fund … collected over the years by inflated COBI water rates far in excess of either operational or capital improvement needs. Not polite to call it fleecing of COBI water ratepayers, but it was fleecing of COBI water ratepayers.

What is also amazing is that no COBI water ratepayer is complaining, and the Central Ward Council members, where most the COBI water ratepayers live and/or have businesses, continue to remain silent because they don’t pay attention to the City financials or even look at employee cost allocations. And rare is it that anybody watches and comments on City accounting, and if they do, it almost always falls on deaf ears.

So as a non-COBI ratepayer and well owner, thank you City water ratepayers for the many years of paying for Bainbridge’s groundwater monitoring program!

And thank you also for paying for the major portion of the USGS aquifer study!

That was about a half million dollar gift to the non-COBI water ratepayers who are connected to other water systems or have their own wells.

Wing Point Way Construction 1 March 2016

Wing Point Way rocking on ... the slope protection basalt walls are continuing to be pieced together.
Wing Point Way rocking on … the slope protection basalt walls are continuing to be pieced together.
Storm drain plastic pipe is being placed on the north side of the roadway.  Catch basins and other utility infrastructure is being installed.
Storm drain plastic pipe is being placed on the north side of the roadway. Catch basins and other utility infrastructure is being installed.
Workers set a storm water vault on Wing Point Way. The new stormwater pipe is visible in the trench.
Workers set a storm water vault on Wing Point Way. The new stormwater pipe is visible in the trench.