Little Nell, Hotel Jerome among 1,600 property owners in Pitkin County that appealed revaluations |

Little Nell, Hotel Jerome among 1,600 property owners in Pitkin County that appealed revaluations

Aspen Skiing Co. appealed the Little Nell Hotel’s revaluation to $66.6 million.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times |

Aspen’s Little Nell Hotel and Hotel Jerome are among hundreds of property owners who appealed the revaluations by the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office this summer.

Between 1,500 and 1,600 property owners filed appeals, said Larry Fite, chief appraiser with the assessor’s office. That is about 10 percent of the total accounts.

“It was actually pretty normal,” Fite said. “We had the monster year when the reappraisal coincided with the downturn in the economy.”

The number of appeals this year returned to pre-recession levels.

Colorado requires counties to perform a reappraisal of property every other year. The current revaluations reflect real estate sales over a two-year period ending June 30, 2016.

Property owners were informed of the new values in May. Those who objected to the new values had to appeal to the assessor’s office by June 1. Owners had to supply information to justify their appeal.

In 30 to 50 percent of the cases, an adjustment of some size was made by the assessor’s office, Fite said. The other appeals were denied.

Property owners unsatisfied with the decision of the assessor’s office can appeal to the next level — the Board of Equalization. The county commissioners appoint hearing officers to hear the cases. The property owner uses sales data to make their case. The assessor’s office counters with the information it used to determine the value. The decisions must be made by Aug. 5. The commissioners approve the hearing officers’ decisions.

Appeals to the Board of Equalization must have been made by today, but since that falls on a Saturday, people have until the end of the day Monday, Fite said. So far, about 90 appeals have been made to the Board of Equalization. He expected the number to swell to about 150 based on past years.

“Like everything, there are people who wait for the last minute,” he said.

Pitkin County records show that Aspen Skiing Co. is appealing the amount of the revaluation of the Little Nell Hotel. The luxury hotel was reappraised at $66.6 million in actual value. The prior value was $52.63 million, according to the assessor’s office’s online records.

The value assigned by the assessor’s office is important because it is used in the formula that determines the property tax bill. Skico paid $495,578.56 for the Little Nell’s 2016 tax bill, according to the Pitkin County Treasurer’s records.

Iconic Properties LLC, owner of the Hotel Jerome, also appealed their revaluation. The property was previously at $37.06 million in actual value. It has since acquired the former Aspen Times building and, more importantly, the land, which is being used for redevelopment. The new actual value soared to $57.34 million from $37 million.

The property taxes on the Hotel Jerome were $349,000 last year, so it is potentially looking at a big jump.

If property owners disagree with the decision by the Board of Equalization, there is recourse. They can file a lawsuit in district court, agree to binding arbitration or file an appeal with the Colorado Board of Assessment Appeals.

In Eagle County, there were 3,333 appeals of real property revaluations, according to Assessor Mark Chapin. About 60 percent were denied and 40 percent were adjusted, he said.

So far, 230 property owners in Eagle County have indicated they want a hearing by the Board of Equalization. That number will grow by Monday’s deadline, Chapin said.

Appeals are filed the vast majority of time by people who feel the revaluations are too high. But in rare cases they want higher values.

“Occasionally, for example, if people are trying to sell their property,” Fite said.

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