By Will Stone
When Manzanita’s City Manager said at a recent Budget Meeting that employees can’t live in Manzanita because the average house costs $850,000, I began to wonder about the source and whether it was accurate. That and comments by others give the impression that Manzanita is a wealthy enclave and by extension that expenses and increases in taxes and fees are of little importance to the well-to-do living here or having second homes here. I doubted that.
Tillamook County’s Assessor office sent a report to me on the Assessed Value and Real Market Value for every house and lot in Manzanita.
The report included data on 1493 residences with an average value of $799,000, a little different than the City Manager’s report.
Beyond that, averages can be deceiving. Here is a histogram of each of the housing data points for the real market value of homes in Manzanita. It shows a distribution skewed to the left with a few expensive properties bringing up the average. The standard deviation is $380,000 with 66% of houses between $420,000 and $1,180,000 and 95% between $40,000 and $1,560,000.
The median(middle) housing cost turns out to be lower still. Looking just at housing after eliminating motels and retail stores, the value of the middle house is $690,000, 20% below the $850,000 assumption. Fully one half of the houses are below that level and one half above that level. Not addressed are how long homes have been owned, the purchase price and related mortgages all of which affects the situations of homeowners.
Housing costs are one measure. Incomes are a another of Manzanita’s wellbeing.
According to Experian, GfK Mediamark Research and Intelligence LLC, Vintage 2020, Dun and Bradstreet, Applied Geographic Solutions, and Alteryx, Inc. demographic studies, the following describes City of Manzanita and Oregon incomes:
Household Income 2022 Est.
$0 – $15000 10.9% 8.9%
$15000 – $24999 9.0% 7.6%
$25000 – $34999 11.1% 8.1%
$35000 – $49999 15.6% 11.5%
$50000 – $74999 19.1% 19.9%
$75000 – $99999 13.6% 14.7%
$100000 – $149999 13.0% 17.1%
$150000 + 7.7% 13.8%
Average $74,171 $93,737
Median(middle) $54,081 $68,830
Per capita $54,470 $37,940
This shows that our wealthy enclave has lower incomes than Oregon as a whole and that many households are operating on tight budgets.
So with the recently passed Nehalem Bay Health District Bond measure passing, this will add 37 cents per thousand dollars of home assessment for up to the next 26 years, many households do notice the cost. Thirty seven cents sounds affordable, but most homeowners will pay $2000 -$6000 toward the assessment during the next 20 years. Voters approved it. Budgets will endure the annual 3% increase in assessed value for regular property taxes and food and energy inflation of the last two years. Many people and their household budgets notice the pinch.
The points are three:
- Manzanita residents have a broad range of incomes and housing values. We are not all the same.
- City Council should not assume increased water fees, possible new street utility fees and tax levies do not matter. They do matter and they really matter for many residents.
- If we are to be paying possible cost increases for water charges, street utility fees or a new City Hall, we deserve an opportunity to vote on the increases.
Is Manzanita an enclave of the wealthy? Hardly. We are more an enclave of the pretty much like everywhere else.
In the tight economy facing us, I wonder if the City Council will reduce expenses or staffing to offset cost increases? It does not appear so. Many citizens are dealing with tight budgets by making reductions elsewhere. Is City Council doing this? Or is it simply passing along more and more expense to its citizens?