Eagle County reappraisals draw appeals
EAGLE COUNTY Many residents of Basalt and El Jebel won’t see their tax bills soar as much as the rest of Eagle County.Property values increased an average of 38 percent in the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County between 2005 and 2007, according to Eagle County Assessor Mark Chapin. While that is a phenomenal jump, it is significantly less than most parts of the Eagle Valley.In the Vail area, for example, values skyrocketed 71 percent since 2005. In and around the booming town of Eagle, values jumped an average of 46 percent.In the county overall, values increased 48 percent, according to the assessor’s office. Many property owners regard that as bad news because it means their tax bills will also soar.Chapin said don’t blame him. He is simply performing a reappraisal that is required by the state government every two years. The last reappraisal was performed in 2005. The state audits the work of each county assessor to make sure it reflects changes in local property values accurately. Nevertheless, some people blame the messenger.”Sometimes you have to wear the black hat as the assessor,” Chapin lamented.Many Eagle County residents are angry at the increases. Roughly 5,820 property owners filed appeals asking for reconsideration of their property values, Chapin said. The number could swell to 6,000 once all appeals come in by mail. The deadline for appeals was Friday, June 1.In contrast, Pitkin County received about 1,000 appeals.Residents of the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County weren’t as likely to protest as residents in the rest of the county. Chapin said slightly more than 100 protests came from the Basalt and El Jebel area.Chapin said the drastic increase in property values reflect the frenzy in the real estate market throughout western Colorado. There has been “rampant inflation” over the last two years.The assessor’s office established property values by looking at sales during an 18-month period, from Jan. 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006. The reappraisal amounts reflect values as of June 30, 2006. Since then, sales prices have continued to climb, suggesting the reappraisal in 2009 will also produce a drastic jump.The property values the assessor’s office established are used to calculate tax bills. Chapin suggested that owners get involved in the budget processes of taxing entities in their neighborhoods to influence the tax rates.The real estate frenzy is devastating the affordable end of the market. In many cases, properties on the low end of the market have jumped up drastically because they are in such high demand.”I don’t think you could get into a house in the Roaring Fork Valley for under $400,000,” Chapin said. And the once-affordable enclaves of the Eagle Valley are rapidly disappearing.”I don’t know that there’s anything affordable in this valley anymore,” Chapin said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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