Garfield County property taxes valuations drop $23 million following adjustments

More than a third of valuation protests resulted in adjustments

Rising costs associated with higher property valuations prompted nearly 1,938 protests this year in Garfield County. Of those appeals, 701 were adjusted while the remaining 1,237 properties were denied, an official told commissioners Monday.

“By the time you figured out adjustments,” Garfield County Assessor Jim Yellico said, “there was a net decrease of $23 million.”

This decrease is a mere drop in the bucket compared to overall increases surrounding local valuations. Value of all real property — commercial, agriculture, homes and vacant land — is now assessed at about $1.661 billion, an increase of 33% from 2022, Yellico said.

This year’s value of personal oil and gas property throughout Garfield County is about $2.354 billion, an increase of 44% since 2022. Yellico said this valuation is caused by price increases of natural gas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the price per 1,000 cubic feet of gas in Colorado shot up from $6.96 in 2020 to $13.05 in 2022.

With everything combined, Garfield County’s overall assessed value is about $4.19 billion.

The Garfield County Assessor’s Office calculates current property assessments are based on June 30, 2022 values. Components to this formula are sales and adjusted sales to the marketplace. Whether it’s  in the same neighborhood, home appraisals are made by comparing the sales of similar homes, which is determined by size, views and more. The value is also adjusted to accurately reflect an always fluctuating marketplace. By state statute, assessors compare sales as far back as 18 months.

Real estate property valuations increasing well beyond that 33% benchmark falls on COVID-19, Yellico said. 

“The 2021 reappraisal, that was based on values as of June 30, 2020 and backwards. You can’t use sales after June 30, so the real estate market in our county, it’s like it waited until after June 30 of 2020 to accelerate out of COVID,” he said. “So, some of the increases that you’re seeing in this 2023 reappraisal are bringing that value increase forward for like 3.95 years instead of just the two years. So that’s it. It’s on a case-by-case basis, but some of the properties went up a lot.”

The “sales comparable” actually started on July 1, 2020, Deputy Assessor Lisa Warder explained. She also said the 701 adjustments were made from the marketplace and that “they were in the range of value but they might be a little high” and that “we’re looking for the median.”

“We have no skin in the game here,” she said. “We’re not married to these values, except in the way that the assessors instructed by statute to be fair and equitable.”

Inflation, of course, has also fueled record protests around the nation, Warder said.

“There’s certainly a lot of Colorado, but it’s just everywhere,” she said. “This real estate market has just gone crazy, and so we’re waiting to see what will happen with it.”

The assessor’s office also noted assessments could also be affected by a proposal to reduce the state’s assessment rate to 6.7% through 2032. Proposition HH, which will be on the November ballot, will also allow property owners to have the first $50,000 of their values exempt for the 2023 tax year. This break drops to $40,000 for the 2024 tax year and lasts until 2032.

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