Pitkin County fields more than 1,000 property tax protests
The Aspen Times
Pitkin County’s assessor estimates that 1,050 property tax protests have come into his office since valuation notices were mailed out May 1.
June 1 was the deadline for protests, which accounted for approximately 7 percent of the some 15,000 valuation notices that were sent to Pitkin County property owners. The real estate market determines the property values, which are based on all sales 24 months prior to June 30, 2014.
Assessor Tom Isaac said property valuations are about 12.5 percent ahead of 2013, the last time the notices were sent out. The evaluation notices are released during odd-numbered years.
The number of protests this year tops the estimated 900 in 2013. In 2009, there were 4,500 protests, chiefly because the real estate market tanked in 2008 after the properties had been assessed. Hordes of property owners contested the assessments — their property taxes are based on them — because they said they inaccurately reflected the downbeat market.
“What really pushed up our numbers (this year) were some group protests,” Isaac said. Those protests mainly came from timeshare owners and homeowners’ associations, Isaac said.
The county will respond to all protests by the end of this month, the assessor said.
“If they’re not satisfied with our answer, they can appeal our decision to the county Board of Commissioners,” he said.
Typically, about 10 percent of the protests go to hearings, Isaac said.
Isaac wasn’t ready to give an overall dollar value to the Pitkin County property market. State law requires all county assessors to provide the top 10 taxpayers by the end of the year. In 2013, Aspen Skiing Co. was Pitkin County’s top property tax payer, with its real estate holdings given an assessed value of $57.4 million and an actual value of $201 million.
In 2014, Pitkin County enjoyed real estate sales of nearly $1.5 billion, buoyed by 12 transactions worth at least $12 million each. The most expensive deal, worth $26 million, was the sale of a single-family home near Woody Creek.
“The real estate market is continuing to be strong, and people know that, even after the date of their valuation almost a year ago,” Isaac said. “Their properties continue to appreciate.”
From Jan. 1 through Friday, five of Pitkin County’s 16 eight-figure sales were worth at least $22 million, according to the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. Those transactions included the sale of the Hotel Jerome for $69.15 million, the $27.5 million sale of the Boogie’s Building and the $22 million sale of the Lift One property.
For more information on property tax protests, call the Assessor’s Office at 970-920-5160.