Property values remained same as year beforeQwest remained Astoria's top taxpayer in 2003, according to data compiled by the Clatsop County assessor's office.

A list showing the city's top 25 taxpayers says the telecommunications provider paid $180,497 in property taxes to the city, down from $188,107 in 2002, on property valued at $9.8 million.

Moving up to second on the list was the Port of Astoria, which paid $118,969 in taxes on its various commercial holdings, which have an assessed value of $5.8 million. Northwest Natural Gas Company was third with a tax bill of $75,077 on property valued at $5.5 million.

Utilities, housing complexes, medical facilities, motels and even a cruise ship were among the properties on the list.

The remaining top 10 taxpayers were: Washington Development Company, owner of North Tongue Point ($74,097 taxes on $4 million assessed property value); Pacificorp ($61,182 taxes, $3.3 million property); Astoria Warehousing Inc. ($58,553 taxes, $3 million property); Dr. Sonny Park Medical LLC ($52,961 taxes, $2.6 million property); Edita Smith - Emerald Heights ($49,777 taxes, $2.4 million property); Shree Radha Krishna Inc. - Comfort Suites ($46,850 taxes, $2.3 million property) and Stefan Boros - Riverine Apartments ($45,274 taxes, $2.2 million property).

All together, the top 25 taxpayers paid about $1.2 million to the city, about one-third of the city's $3.7 million tax levy for 2003.

The three utilities, Qwest, NW Natural and Pacificorp - the city's number one, three and five biggest taxpayers, respectively - are taxed on all their infrastructure, including utility lines.

Joining the list at number 11 was Safeway with its new grocery store on Leif Erikson Drive, for which the company paid $40,234 taxes on $1,971,917 assessed value.

A "property" that's only in town a few days a year also pays taxes - the Queen of the West cruise ship. The replica paddle-wheeler, owned by America West Steamboat Company of Seattle, Wash., paid $27,977 to the city in 2003.

The company pays property taxes because the state of Oregon classifies cruise ships like the Queen as utilities, and requires them to pay taxes to the cities where they dock, according to Astoria Finance Director John Snyder.

Overall the value of commercial and industrial properties in Astoria showed no change from the previous year, according to county Assessor Betsy Moes. The department tracks sales of various types of property to determine what changes to make in the assessed values. For 2003, the sales data showed no overall increase or decrease, Moes said.


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