How to understand the property valuation notices and what it will mean for property taxes |

How to understand the property valuation notices and what it will mean for property taxes

This graph illustrates the historical gap between assessed value and property taxes, though that gap is closing.
PItkin County/Courtesy image

Property owners this week received a piece of mail from their counties — definitely not the fun kind. 

Assessors offices across the state recently sent out property valuations, and the jump in value is more than double the last valuation in some parts of the Western Slope and in Pitkin County. Owners are worried because property value is used in a complex formula to calculate property tax. 

But the spike in property value is highly unlikely to result in an equally steep hike in property tax due to revenue restrictions on tax districts. 

Mill levies, restrictions, and assessment rate all play into a final property tax number. 

This year, the state Legislature lowered the residential and multi-family property rate to 6.765% from 6.95%. The assessment rate for renewable energy and agriculture property is 26.4%. For commercial/industrial property and vacant land, the rate is 27.9%, down from 29%. 

That number is multiplied by a property’s actual value, which results in the assessed value. The assessed value is then multiplied by any levies imposed by tax districts. That number is property tax. 

“You don’t just willy-nilly apply a tax rate to your assessed value, and there are a number of restrictions that keep (the property tax increase) not in line with the actual valuation increase of your property,” Ann Driggers, Pitkin County’s chief financial and administrative officer, told the Board of County Commissioners at a work session Tuesday. 

This calendar outlines the upcoming deadlines for the property valuation and tax process.
Pitkin County/Courtesy image

For those in APCHA properties, those assessed values are calculated by APCHA and sent to the Assessor’s Office. APCHA property owners may protest their value with the assessor, according to Pitkin County Assessor Deb Bamesberger.

In their presentation, she and Briggers discussed the high rate of inflation and how that interacts with strongly restricted county tax funds, some of which have revenue restrictions in place below the rate of inflation.

There are a number of legislation changes at the state level that may affect final tax calculation, as taxpayer mitigations interact with tax district revenue that might not keep up with inflation. 

For example, the assessed value for residential properties will be reduced by $15,000 and $30,000 for commercial properties, according to Driggers and Bamesberger.

But TABOR reimbursements could go to counties to recoup that loss in tax revenue. 

Within Pitkin County, there are 51-53 tax entities. (There is some dispute over the exact count; the Department of Local Affairs says 53).

To estimate property tax, property owners can view their property tax account at the Pitkin County Treasurer’s Office web page and view which mill levies have applied to them in the past.

However, the exact property tax value will be different this cycle as the mill levies have yet to be calculated, and there may be changes in the taxing entities that apply to a taxpayer, according to Driggers. 

If a property owner wants to appeal the assessed value, they must do so by appealing the county Assessor’s Office by June 8. More information is available at the assessor website. 

Property owners can use the chart below to reach points of contact for tax districts in which they live.

This spreadsheet, put together by the county Assessor’s office, lists contact information for the tax authorities in Pitkin County.
Pitkin County/Courtesy image