Taxable bills on the rise, while home values plunge |

Taxable bills on the rise, while home values plunge

Pete Fowler
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Garfield County Assessor John Gorman warns homeowners that while today’s home values plunge, their future property tax bills are on the rise.

It’s not because assessors like to pull a fast one on taxpayers. The reason is, under state law, assessors must look back a year when they calculate taxable home values, which they do every other year.

“We don’t value them according to what they’re worth today,” Gorman said. “Each time we do it, we do it for the value of the previous year’s June 30.”

So the property tax bill for 2009 will be based on a home’s value as of June 30, 2008. After constant growth for years and a record 2007, the Garfield County real estate market has tanked amidst national economic turmoil.

As a result, people could find themselves paying taxes based on home values higher than what the homes could actually sell for.

Gorman wants people to know about the lag in assessed valuation to avoid confusion or think things like, “Stupid assessor ” I know my house is worth more than this.”

Notices of value will be sent by May 1. Due to the abnormal circumstances, Garfield County is considering hiring independent referees to handle what might be a very large amount of appeals. The County Board of Equalization, which is basically the county commissioners, hears appeals that aren’t settled by a response from the assessor’s office.

At a recent County Commission meeting, Commissioner John Martin said he believes commissioners should “sit here and take the heat” instead of using independent referees. But Gorman said, “There are a certain number of appeals past which you cannot sincerely handle.”

The notices of value could be a shock since for about the last 20 years, people always got a notice of value showing home values lower than the present-day value. This time that won’t be the case.

Gorman said when people get their notices of value in May, they’ll see values increase anywhere from 35 percent to over 65 percent in certain places in Carbondale. It reflects the growth in value from June 2006 to June 2008, and not the drop-off in actual home values that has occurred since then.

The greater assessed values mean 2009 property tax bills could increase by 50 percent or more in certain places.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

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