Tax Shock

downloadMany Teller residents are still struggling with a bad case of “sticker shock,” resulting from recent notices of property valuations sent by the county. On average, the value of residential property in the county grew by 20 percent over last year’s appraisals.
The county assessor’s office mailed out value notices to about 26,000 property owners on May 1. And unlike past revaluation periods, this one is creating quite a buzz with some residents wondering if they are looking at typographical or computer error on their notices, as they mull the prospects of paying higher property taxes in 2016 and 2017.
“We knew we were going to see an increase in values, but we are surprised by the level of increases,” admitted Teller County Assessor Betty Clark-Wine. The assessor cites a 22 percent hike as the average increase for residential values throughout Teller. But for some residential areas, owners are facing up to 30 percent spikes in their values. Big property value hikes were recorded in such subdivisions as Indian Creek and Colorado Mountain Estates. Also hit were subdivisions outside of Divide and the southeast part of Teller, including Cripple Creek and Victor.
Similar value hikes occurred throughout other nearby counties, with Douglas County recording a 22 percent hike and the city of Denver experiencing a nearly 30 percent increase in the value of residential properties. And in El Paso County, 91 percent of residential property owners had increases in values, according to the assessor’s office.
Outside of residential values, the Teller Assessor’s Office reported little variation for commercial properties and for vacant land.
The residential property hikes, part of the revaluation period and based on a property’s worth as of June 30, 2014, are attributed to an improving real estate market in Colorado. From a local standpoint, Clark-Wine believes the value hikes are a byproduct of the impacts associated with Charis Bible College and its overall development in Woodland Park; a large influx of second-home and out-of-state buyers; a lot more cash buyers; a low rate of foreclosure; and an increase in retirees. “We have had a lot of cash buyers who had been waiting on the sidelines for a number of years,” said Clark-Wine.
Plus, the assessor notes that many properties may have been undervalued for several years, with Teller getting stung by a lingering recession. This point was emphasized during an economic forecast forum, held last spring. And according to the assessor’s office, recent property sales showed prices that far exceeded those of previous years.
Still Time To Protest
If you are still having a difficult time dealing with sticker shock from your recent value notices, there is still time to act. Residents have until June 1 to file a protest, which can be done on-line or in writing. For more information about the process, visit the county’s main website at www.co.teller.co.us/.
Following the protest period, if a property owner is still unhappy with the final verdict rendered by the assessor’s office, they can take their case before the county commissioners, which act as the board of equalization. These hearings occur in mid-July.
If a property owner is still upset, then they can make an appeal before the state board of equalization.
The new values will play a big role in determining the tax bills of residents for 2016 and 2017. The specific impact of the hike in values on tax bills still hasn’t been determined.
But surprisingly, Clark-Wine says the assessor’s office hasn’t experienced an increase of phone calls or complaints. Typically, she said about 10 percent of the property owners who receive valuations file some type of a protest. She says Teller is on par with this for the 2015 protest period. By late last week, Clark-Wine reported that their office had received 750 protests, which compares to about 2,200 for the entire previous revaluation period two years ago.
She believes that many property owners were aware of the possibility of higher value notices, with the publicity surrounding an improving real estate market. But she admits that “sticker shock” is still dominating much of the conversations regarding the explosion in property values across the state. Values were especially strong for properties within the $200,000 to $350,000 price range.
According to Clark-Wine, the new value notices are mostly influenced by sales occurring in the last several years.
“We can’t suppress the (sales) numbers,” said Clark-Wine. In fact, if people really want to see if they are getting a bad deal, then she suggests examining the sales of properties in their neighborhood or subdivision, or similar areas in the county. According to Clark-Wine, market activity in their area is the main influential number that impacts their values. She also advised residents to examine the improvements tabulated by the assessor’s office to make sure they get a fair tabulation. But the assessor says her office welcomes the opportunity to discuss notices of revaluation with individual property owners. She is also planning on doing a number of public forums on the valuation notices and overall process. On June 3, Clark-Wine will appear at a forum, hosted by the Teller County Republicans at their headquarters above the City Market store in Woodland Park. This meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., is open to all citizens and not just registered Republicans.
For more information call 719-689-2941. Tax