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Tribe tax system unfair

The Swinomish Tax Authority reduced the levy rate for 2021 to $11.98 per thousand from $12.35 per thousand. The assessed value of homes in Shelter Bay and Pull & Be Damned remained roughly the same, so most taxpayers will see a 3% decrease in taxes.

The Swinomish government plans to collect $2,142,674 in taxes from Shelter Bay, Pull & Be Damned, Thousand Trails and Dunlap Towing. It will contribute $1,077,702 to three taxing districts. These are: Fire District 13 at $200,000, La Conner Library at $27,702, plus $250,000 to a sinking fund for the new La Conner-Swinomish Library and La Conner schools will receive $500,000 for operations and maintenance, plus $100,000 for a new roof on the gym.

These contributions are from all trust lands, not just Shelter Bay and Pull & Be Damned, yet the source is largely property taxes from these two areas.

After deducting the contributions, exemptions, uncollectible taxes and taxes shared with the county, the Tribe will have slightly over one million dollars left.

The three taxing districts that receive a contribution from the Tribe should deduct the amount of the contribution from their levy requests, but there is no evidence that they do so. They receive the tax shift plus the tribal contribution.

The remaining taxing districts are Medic 1, County General, County Roads, Conservation, the Anacortes Port District and the State levy. None of these taxing districts negotiated a contract with the Tribe. Medic 1 should receive $72,394, but gets nothing. Skagit County accounts for $578,183 of the tax shift. The State levy costs $520,741. The total tax shift is $2,010,515.

Because of the tax shift, those living in La Conner will see $328 added to their taxes. Those living in the county will see an additional $414 (because of county roads). This has been going on for six years.

Rep. Dave Paul tried to correct this situation, but the Department of Revenue would not go along. They believe they have the right to impose a tax shift without a vote of the people. The Skagit County Assessor is an agent of the Department of Revenue, so don’t blame him.


Dan O’Donnell

La Conner


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