Property Tax Relief in Sight?

Rick Langenberg

Don’t panic, when you see your assessment valuation and probable tax bill, as help could be on the way, at least on the legislative front.

That is the message being conveyed by area elected leaders and by Governor Jared Polis. At issue is astronomical property value hikes that could exceed a 50 percent increase, ultimately leading to much higher taxes. In some cases, these hikes could even hit the 100 percent-plus range, especially for vacant land holdings in certain areas.

But the solutions to this crisis situation are far from simple.  This dilemma is attributed to a booming real estate market that peaked when the most recent revaluation period occurred (based on values as of June 30, 2022), coupled with an earlier voter decision to get rid of the Gallagher Amendment that limited the taxation rate for residential properties.

Late last week, a plan proposed by Polis passed the Senate and is now headed to the House. The governor’s bid would cap property tax hike revenue to a certain level, by using Taxpayer Bill of Rights refunds to partially pay for this relief.  This plan, though, would require a vote this November.

If the plan moves forward, the relief package would open the door for about $167 million per year, monies that would go to local governments to help them offset the reductions in property tax revenue they would normally receive. Proponents say this offers a more permanent solution than any temporary fix.

This plan has received mixed reviews, with state Democrats heavily backing the effort. “Coloradoans are about to get hit with painful property tax spikes, which is why we’re taking this action now to meet the moment and provide real relief for Colorado families,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg. But area Republicans, including the Teller commissioners, are questioning approval of this measure in the 11th hour. Some critics believe the governor’s solution is too confusing.

The commissioners are more supportive of an earlier proposal, submitted by Senator Mark Baisley, which would permit local governments to lower their mill levies on a temporary basis to help taxpayers, providing needed tax relief,  without requiring these entities to undergo a later vote, mandated by TABOR, to bring these levies back to their status quo level at a later date.

In any case, solutions are being explored, but the details are fluctuating on a daily basis, and are difficult to understand.

More up-to-date details and explanations could be released during an upcoming forum, scheduled at the Ute Pass Cultural Center on May 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. This meeting, sponsored by the Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce, is being presented by officials of the Teller County Assessor’s office. It follows an earlier forum that was conducted for business owners and operators.