Garfield County tax protests ‘probably double’ the previous tally
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Roughly twice as many taxpayers as two years ago are disputing the value of their property, as determined by the Garfield County Assessor’s Office, according to assessor John Gorman.
He said Friday he had received nearly 2,600 protests to notices of valuation sent out this year, which he said was “probably double” the number received the last time property was revalued.
Taxpayers around the region were expected to be shocked with this year’s biennial notices of revaluation; the notices were sent out in May but were based on home prices during midsummer 2008, when area prices were at the peak of the recent housing boom.
As a result, current valuations, which are used to determine a property owner’s tax bill, do not reflect the deep slide in prices caused by the national and international recession that began late in summer 2008.
According to Gorman, property values around Garfield County had risen by as much as 60 percent in the two years between the previous revaluation year – 2007 – and this year, though the average was closer to 40 percent.
The protest period ended on June 1, and Gorman and his staff of 20 appraisers are busily working through the filings, which must be answered by the end of the month, according to state law.
Gorman said that, in most cases, his office stands by its original valuation, although in some cases errors are made when the assessor’s office works from inaccurate information. For example, Gorman said there are times when a homeowner can show that the property in question has two bedrooms instead of three, or an unfinished basement instead of a finished one, and the valuation will be lowered.
Once the “notices of determination” from the assessor’s office conclusions regarding the protest, taxpayers have until mid-July to request an appeal to the county’s board of equalization. Expecting a higher number of such appeals than usual, the county commissioners recently hired four real estate appraisal specialists to act as hearing examiners to help with the process.
The hearing officers, and the maximum amounts the county will pay for their services, include Lisa Roberts of Grand Junction, $18,000; James Blair of Parachute, $16,450; Michael Ireland of Aspen, $8,100; and Gerald Fairbanks of Glenwood Springs, $2,100.
One of the hired hearing officers specializes in commercial appraisals, Gorman said, while the other three are more familiar with residential properties, a reflection of Gorman’s prediction that the majority of protests involve residential real estate.
“We have a few hearings set up, but not very many,” he said, explaining that it will not become clear how many hearings will be needed until the end of June.
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It’s that time of year — hikers and mountain bikers must be aware that seasonal closures are taking effect on multiple trails in the area today for the winter for the benefit of wildlife.