By Pat Jenkins
The Dispatch
The new year that's around the corner is bringing more people to process new applications and renewals for property tax exemptions for senior and disabled homeowners in Pierce County.
At the request of Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan, the 2018 county budget includes funding to hire a fifth member of the “exemptions team.” Going from four to five workers will help the staff keep up with the workload, according to Lonergan. He said a recent increase in the household income level that qualifies for exemptions has caused the “team to fall behind.”
Lonergan said 4,000 new applications and 3,800 renewals and status changes are processed each year. Applicants “experienced unacceptable delays in processing” in 2017, “which must not be repeated in 2018,” he added.
Lonergan’s request for more personnel was included by the County Council in the budget it approved Nov. 21. Funding for the exemptions employee was left out of the inlitial budget proposed by County Executive Bruce Dammeier.
In a memo to the council, Lonergan urged the council “in the strongest possible terms” to grant his request. He also noted that the assessor-treasurer staff has been reducwed by 20 percent over the past 15 years through the use of technology and other gains in efficiency.
The assessor-treasurer assesses the value of property and maintains tax rolls. In 2017, Lonergan said, $1.75 billion in taxable value has been added, resulting in additional property tax revenue that will be collected in 2018 for the county and other jurisdictions.