Judge Upholds Street Levy Tax Exemption for Low-income Seniors

Marlene Feist, Utilities Communications Manager, (509) 625-6505

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at Noon

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Harold D. Clarke has upheld a City of Spokane ordinance that authorized a property tax exemption for qualified low-income seniors and disabled individuals. The ordinance applies to the City’s new street levy, which voters approved in November.

“This is a great outcome for our citizens, as we continue our quest to provide excellent government services in an affordable way,” says Mayor David Condon. “We told our citizens our street levy proposal would buy additional street improvements without increasing tax rates, and the judge’s decision allows us to follow through with that commitment.”

The Spokane City Council adopted the exemption ordinance in February. The City’s exemption mirrors one already allowed by state law. The City adopted its own exemption program to apply to the new street levy because the City was told that the state’s program didn’t apply to the new levy as it did to the previous 2004 Street Bond.


The City’s exemption was not implemented, however, because the Spokane County Assessor’s Office argued that it was not authorized to implement it because of opposition by the Washington State Department of Revenue. The issue ended up in court, following the City’s attempts to resolve the issue administratively.

“Our citizens are the winners today,” says Council President Ben Stuckart. “The Mayor and I promised our citizens results with no tax rate increase. We followed through with legal action to deliver on that promise because it was the right thing to do.”

With this ruling, City staff will work with Assessor’s Office to determine how to correct the approximately 4,700 property tax bills for 2015 that are wrong and to ensure correct billing in the future.

The tax exemption applies to seniors or disabled individuals with a household income of $35,000 or less. Citizens can apply for the property exemption through the Spokane County Assessor’s Office. Information is available at www.spokanecounty.org/Assessor/.