Total property value in Pitkin County: $35.7 billion | AspenTimes.com

Total property value in Pitkin County: $35.7 billion

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

PITKIN COUNTY – The total actual value of property in Pitkin County has dropped to $35.7 billion following adjustments that came in response to an unprecedented number of protests and Board of Equalization hearings.

The process was supposed to be finished by Aug. 5, but the state allowed the county to continue beyond that deadline, given the large number of property owners who challenged the values assigned their properties.

A recently completed tally of the outcome of 1,877 hearings before officers acting on behalf of the Board of Equalization indicates a total of $264.2 million was shaved from property values during the hearings, which wrapped up Sept. 17.

The Board of County Commissioners actually constitutes the Board of Equalization, but commissioners hired a group of hearing officers to conduct the hearings on their behalf. When it became clear the hearings would extend well beyond the Aug. 5 cutoff, the hearing officers agreed to cut their hourly rate, saving the county about $20,000, according to a memo to commissioners. Still, the county has spent $99,000 more than its original budget to cover the cost of the hearings and clerical help.

The county assessor’s office faced what Assessor Tom Isaac called the “perfect reappraisal storm” when it set new property values and sent out notices to property owners in the spring. The values were based on property sales between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2008, but the market had slumped by the time the assessment notices were sent and property owners worried they’d be saddled with property tax bills based on value that no longer existed.

The assessor’s office faced a slew of protests – the first step in the appeal process – last June. It reviewed 4,576 protests and adjusted values for slightly more than one-third of them.

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Property owners who weren’t satisfied with the outcome of their protest had the option of filing an appeal with the Board of Equalization. Those who were still unhappy could continue their appeal through either arbitration or before the State Board of Assessment Appeals.

According to Jeanette Jones, clerk to the county commissioners, 115 property owners have elected to seek arbitration and 101 petitions have been filed with the state board.

janet@aspentimes.com