Sticker Shock Jolt: Teller Property Owners May Face Dramatic Tax Increases

Assessed Values to Skyrocket Throughout Local Area

Rick Langenberg

Forget about the impacts of inflation, higher interest rates and stories of a declining real estate  market, as those national news tales apparently don’t apply to Teller County and the Pikes Peak region,


In fact,  nearly 30,000 Teller property owners may have to soon get their reading glasses out and hold onto their chairs tight. Moreover, they must realize they are not reading another TMJ April Fool’s spoof story, or a science fiction doomsday  novel, or think they received the wrong piece of mail that should belong to someone residing in Aspen or Vail.


Notices of valuation, slated to be mailed out on May 1, will provide a “sticker shock” jolt for local residents, with county officials bracing themselves for a worst case scenario, and what could go down as a record volume of protests.


“Values will increase significantly,” said Teller County Deputy Assessor Michael Akana, when addressing a group of realtors, commercial property owners and business operators/owners during a reappraisal forum last week, sponsored by the Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce.


Both Akana and Teller County Assessor Carol Kittelson tried to prepare business operators/owners for the inevitable in pronouncing the state of the market for the forthcoming valuation  notices, sent out every other year.  Based on information presented at the community  meeting,  local  property owners could receive skyrocketing hikes in values, translating to higher taxes, ranging from 30 to 100 percent increases.


“It will look horrible,” admitted Kittelson, when outlining the huge hikes in values and the notices residents will soon receive.


These notices will represent the assessed value of their property, as of June 30, 2022.  It doesn’t represent what these are valued as of an hour ago, yesterday, or take into account what has occurred with the national market regarding rising interest rates or declining sales prices in recent months and global tensions.


Although in Teller County, these real estate impacts have been minimal. “It (the real estate market) has been very resilient, at least locally,” said Akana.


Teller assessor officials credit the huge spike in values as a byproduct of the popularity of Colorado, Colorado Springs and the entire region.  “Teller County has been discovered, at least in the last three years,” said the deputy assessor.


Akana admits he has been surprised by the continual increase in real estate sales prices, a trend that he even believed was unsustainable several years ago.


During last week’s presentation, the assessor officials cited vacant land as the classification experiencing the biggest change, with a 100 percent hike in value


As for overall trends, based on figures presented by the assessor’s office, properties in rural Teller have encountered a 43 to 48 percent increase; Woodland Park values have been upped by 35 to 40 percent; while Cripple Creek/Victor  values have taken a 60 to 65 percent hike. Those latter figures offered a few surprises at last week’s forum, but officials attributed these to the fact that these communities offer more affordable real estate prices for homes and smaller dwellings, and are moving in that direction.


The spike in value news didn’t get a warm welcome from the group of business owners who worry about the impacts of these changes, especially for commercial  property owners, who pay four or five times more in taxes than what residential owners do.


“This is going to kill our community,” said Lee Taylor, a commercial property owner, who owns the Woodland Professional building in Woodland Park.  “We are trying to be friendly to our tenants…We are not Walmart.”


The assessor officials sympathized with the business representatives, but didn’t offer any concrete suggestions, other than trying to make legislative adjustments, or to  lobby for changes with the commissioners.


What Do We Do?

Some business operators asked about their realistic chances, if they file protests.  They sought an average percentage of adjustments made by the assessor’s office during the reappraisal years.

Other wondered if commercial and business owners would be better off in not making property improvements.  And some questioned why commercial property owners are getting the shaft, and the lingering effects on the business community and for taxpayers as a whole  with the current system, which they claim appears out of whack at times.


In outlining the process, Kittelson stated that the notices of valuations would be sent out on May 1.

Then, property owners have until June 8 to file a formal protest with the assessor’s office, which will make a final determination by the end of June.


If they are still not  happy, property owners can take their case before the county commissioners, who act as the board of equalization. Still not happy, then property owners can take their protests to the state level.


Kittelson expects her office will get bombarded by protests this year, mainly due to the June 30, 2022, target period of reassessment. During the last reassessment two years ago, she stated that property owners didn’t think much about it because prices were continuing to rise and the market remained sizzling hot. As a result, Teller assessor officials didn’t receive that many complaints.


But with the current scenario, that hasn’t been the case. Kittelson projects that valuation protests  could exceed the 3,000 number.


On a small note of future help, legislation is proceeding that would allow local governments to temporarily lower the mill levy on a temporary basis to ease the pain associated with the higher taxes due to escalating values. This bill is strongly supported by the county commissioners and is moving forward.