By Marcy Stamper
The almost $42 million in the value of new construction in Okanogan County added over the past 12 months mirrors a trend seen over the past five years, which has seen only minor fluctuations.
The value of building activity this year is 7 percent less than the value added last year, but slightly above the construction activity recorded in 2012.
Still, annual building activity over the past five years has been about half of the 2008 peak of $88.6 million, with only slight variations seen in the totals, which ranged from $37 million to $45 million.
As in most years, the majority of the new building occurred in the Methow Valley School District, where one-third of the construction — worth more than $13 million — occurred. The Tonasket School District was next, with 16 percent of the total, followed by Oroville with 14 percent. The Brewster School District recorded 9 percent; Omak, 8 percent; Okanogan, 5 percent; and Pateros, just 2.5 percent.
The majority of the construction (87 percent) was residential, compared with only 71 percent residential building last year. This year there were no new large businesses or retail outlets to shift the balance, as has happened in some recent years, according to Okanogan County Assessor Scott Furman.
The value of new construction will partially offset the $31 million loss in value from structures burned in the Carlton Complex Fire. In addition, the assessor’s office is still calculating the losses to land values on 3,800 parcels that burned. The assessor’s staff has reduced the value on timbered land by 50 percent and by 25 percent on non-timbered land, but has not tallied the total losses yet, said Furman.
The Okanogan County assessor’s office physically inspects all new building every year—everything from new houses to garages to additions — and adds the value to the tax rolls. Any building 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, is included in the new valuation.
The appraisers use a nationally standardized list of values for architecture, 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 2015.
For more information, call the assessor’s office at (509) 422-7190.