By Marcy Stamper
In a departure from a two-decade-long trend, the Methow Valley has been eclipsed by Oroville for the greatest value of new construction in the county, largely because of the expansion of a wood-products facility there.
Okanogan County added $45 million in new assessed value, 9 percent more than last year, with 41 percent of that ($18.4 million) in the Oroville School District, according to Okanogan County Assessor Scott Furman. The Methow Valley School District was next, with 21 percent of the total, adding $9.3 million in value.
While building has not rebounded to the height of 2008, when it hit $88.6 million countywide, this is the second year of an overall increase in value, after a low of $37.4 million in 2011, according to figures from the assessor’s office. That was the only other year in the past two decades when the Methow did not top the list, because of substantial residential construction on Lake Osoyoos and the Buckhorn Mine, both near Oroville.
This year the proportion of commercial to residential construction in the county showed an unusual tilt toward commercial, which accounted for 29 percent of the building activity – again, largely due to the Oroville wood-products facility, owned by a company in British Columbia. Last year only 13 percent of new construction was commercial, and it is often below 10 percent, according to the assessor.
The Tonasket School District came in third, with just over $5 million in new construction (11 percent of the total); followed by Brewster, with $4.9 million (10 percent) and Omak, with $2.8 million (6 percent). The Pateros and Okanogan school districts both had relatively little activity, with new building in each area around $1.5 million, or just 3 percent of the total.
Four appraisers with the assessor’s office physically inspect and value all new construction occurring within the past year for property tax purposes. This includes all construction that is at least 50 percent complete by the end of July; that is, “dried in” for winter, with a roof, walls, windows and doors. It includes new homes, garages and any renovations that add square footage.
The appraisers use a nationally standardized list of values for architecture and design, building size, materials, and number and type of windows. They calculate only the replacement cost of the structure and do not include intangibles such as location, water access or view, said Furman.
All property owners who have had new construction valued by the county will receive a notice from the assessor later this year. Adding the value of these structures to the county’s tax rolls helps lessen the property-tax burden for other taxpayers, since the total amount of tax is split up among all property owners based on the value of their property and improvements. The changes will be reflected in property taxes paid in 2014.
For more information, call the assessor’s office at (509) 422-7190.