Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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Would I pay more or less in taxes if I annexed? Click on this link to view tax comparison tables

There is a popular misconception that annexation to a city results in an increase in property taxes.  Many people believe this because they assume that when they annex, they will pay municipal taxes in addition to other taxes they already pay.  


In actuality, upon annexation municipal taxes replace two other property taxes – county road district taxes, and fire district taxes.  In every taxing district within Bothell’s potential annexation areas,  the total of the road district and fire district taxes exceeds the municipal tax.  This means that no matter in which potential annexation area you live, you would pay lower property taxes if you were to annex to Bothell.  


In addition to property taxes, Bothell residents and businesses pay utility taxes, which the counties do not yet have the authority to collect.  Even so, for the average household in every potential annexation area, the combination of the Bothell municipal property tax and Bothell utility taxes would still be lower than what you are paying in property tax alone in King or Snohomish County.


We understand that this seems counter-intuitive, so we’ve prepared a number of tables which compare the taxes and other fees the owner of a home valued at $300,000 pays in unincorporated Snohomish County versus the taxes and fees that homeowner would pay in Bothell.

There are five tables because that’s how many different combinations of taxing districts exist in the MUGA.  The variables from table to table are fire districts, school districts and the Northshore Parks and Recreation Service Area (PRSA). 

Following are the titles of the tables, by these variables:  click on the one that applies to you.  If you don’t know what fire district or school district you live in, please use the index map we’ve provided to determine which table applies to you.


Portion of MUGA within Snohomish County Fire District 1, Northshore School District and Northshore Parks and Recreation Service Area


Portion of MUGA within Snohomish County Fire District 1 and Edmonds School District


Portion of MUGA within Snohomish County Fire District 7


Portion of MUGA within Snohomish County Fire District 10, Northshore School District and Northshore Parks and Recreation Service Area


Portion of MUGA within Snohomish County Fire District 10 and Edmonds School District

Can I still receive property tax exemptions following annexation?

Yes, annexation does not affect a property owner’s ability to qualify for property tax exemptions.  Note that property tax exemption programs are administered through the County Assessor’s Office, not the City.

Will annexation affect my zoning?

Generally, the City’s approach to land use planning and zoning for the MUGA is to apply the Bothell comprehensive plan designations and zoning classifications which most closely match the existing Snohomish County. 

Since county and city plan designations and zoning regulations do not always match, you may end up with slightly higher or lower development potential than you now have, and there may be differences in such requirements as setbacks, allowed building height and landscaping. 

I am currently on a septic tank. Will I have to hook up to sewer when annexed?

No.  Sewer connection is not mandatory upon annexation.  Moreover, you are currently within a water and sewer district – either Alderwood or Northshore and the City is not proposing to assume service of your area upon annexation.  Therefore, the district’s requirements regarding septic tanks and sewers would continue to apply.

I am currently on a well. Will I have to hook up to a water system when annexed?

No, you will be allowed to continue using your well following annexation.  However, in the event of a failure of the well, the Health District may require abandonment of the well and connection to a public water system.   In addition, if a property owner on a private well decides to subdivide the property and develop to a higher density, connection to both a water and sanitary sewer system would likely be required.  As stated above, your water and sewer district’s requirements regarding potable water would continue to apply.

If I annex, who will maintain streets in my neighborhood, including fixing potholes and snow plowing?

The Bothell Public Works Department will maintain the streets in the annexation area.  The Public Works Department built a new shop facility which expands our capabilities to serve the existing city limits plus the MUGA.

There are private parks in my subdivision which are owned and maintained by the homeowners’ association. What happens to those following annexation?

The private parks in your subdivision will continue to be owned and maintained by the homeowners’ association following annexation.

Can I continue to operate my home occupation business following annexation?

Yes, you will be able to continue operating your home occupation business following annexation.  Business owners in Bothell, including home occupation businesses, are required to obtain a Bothell business license, which must be renewed annually.  Bothell allows home occupation businesses subject to certain restrictions, which mostly pertain to ensuring compatibility with the neighborhood in which the business is located.  Home occupations may be limited with regard to noise, traffic generation, the number of non-resident employees and the number of customers served.

Will annexation affect school district boundaries?

No, annexation will not change any school district boundaries.

What will happen to buildings or land uses that do not conform to current City zoning standards should annexation occur?

Non-conforming buildings or uses are allowed to continue in perpetuity unless certain thresholds are triggered.  For example:

No non-conforming use or structure shall be expanded, enlarged, or intensified;


No non-conforming use shall be moved to any other portion of the lot on which it is located;


If any nonconforming use of land ceases for any reason for a period of one year over a three-year period, any subsequent use of such land shall be brought into conformance with City regulations.

Can a nonconforming building or structure be maintained and repaired or rebuilt following a fire or other disaster?

Yes, legal, non-conforming buildings and structures may be maintained or repaired and rebuilt following a disaster, provided that certain requirements are met.  Specifically:


A legal nonconforming structure may be maintained, repaired, renovated or structurally altered provided such maintenance, repair or alteration does not increase its nonconformity;


All expansion, extension, maintenance or repair activities of nonconforming structures or   improvements must be consistent with City codes and regulations.


A nonconforming structure or other improvement destroyed by fire or acts of nature may be repaired or reconstructed to the same or smaller nonconformity that existed at the time the structure was destroyed; provided, that:


The repair or reconstruction does not increase the previous nonconformity;


The building permit application for repair or reconstruction is submitted within 12 months of the occurrence of damage;


The number of off-street parking stalls are not reduced; and


Landscaping fully complies with City requirements.

Does the City enforce private covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs)?

CC&Rs are typically restrictions on private property that are enacted and enforced by a homeowners’ association.  As such, neither the City nor County enforce CC&Rs.

Will I have to go through the City’s permit process if I’ve already received a permit from the County?

No, the City will honor any valid permit issued by the County.

How will I know about opportunities to comment on proposed projects in my neighborhood?

The City’s Community Development Department coordinates the legal noticing of proposed land use applications and construction projects.  Many types of development application permit require posting of one or more notice boards on the subject property, publishing of a notice in the City’s newspaper of record (the Seattle Times), and direct mailing of notice to all property owners within 300 feet of the subject property.  In addition, the City posts notices on its website.  City construction projects are also posted on-line.

Does the City have a code enforcement program?

Yes.  The City’s code enforcement program is within the Department of Community Development.  The City will investigate potential or actual code violations when a complaint is formally received.  If the violation is a life-safety issue it will be investigated without a formal complaint being received.  Complaints may be filed in person at the Department of Community Development, by telephone, via e-mail, or through the City’s website. 

I have some horses and cattle. Can I keep them?

Yes.  The Bothell zoning regulations specifically allow the raising and keeping of livestock, subject to certain minimum land-area-per-animal requirements, which protect the welfare of the animals.  The area requirements vary depending on the type of animal.  Even if you do not meet these area requirements, you would have the right as a non-conforming ("grandfathered") use to continue to keep your animals, assuming that you complied with the applicable county regulations prior to annexation.

The streets in my neighborhood are privately owned. Would the City take them over following annexation?

No, privately owned streets would continue to be privately owned following annexation.

I live in a gated community. Would the City allow the community to continue being gated following annexation?

Yes.  City emergency services would make provisions with the community for access when needed. 

What are Bothell’s fireworks regulations?

You may discharge fireworks on July 4th between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. For more details on Bothell’s fireworks regulations, see Bothell Municipal Code Chapter 8.37, available online at

Would annexation to Bothell affect my property value?

It is unlikely that the single act of annexation would affect your property value.

The value of your property is important for several reasons. These are:

• Property tax assessment

• Mortgage loan financing (or refinancing)

• Selling your property

With regards to property tax assessment, a lower property value results in lower property taxes paid. A higher property value is usually desirable when seeking financing or refinancing of a mortgage loan, and, of course, when selling, a higher property value is always desired.

When either the County Assessor (for property tax assessment) or a real estate appraiser (for re-financing or selling your home) calculate a value for your property, they typically do so by looking at comparable values (comps) of similar property that recently sold in your area. A lot of factors go into these calculations, and it’s not an exact science.

There are websites on the internet that attempt to compare home values by zip code, or through some other large-area comparison. Keep in mind that attempting to compare property values over such a large area is a very broad-brush approach to looking at property values. Relatively high property values in one area are likely off-setting lower property values in a different area and what you are really looking at is something closer to an average or median value of many properties located throughout the entire study area.

For these reasons, it is unlikely that the single act of annexation would affect your property value either way.