Gunnison County sends out updated valuations
Written by Aimee Brown   
Wednesday, 08 May 2013

Some increases, some decreases; ramifications unknown

Gunnison County delivered its 2013 Assessor’s Report and property valuation notices to residents’ mailboxes this week, and with a few marked exceptions the response has predominantly been one of reluctant acceptance.


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The Assessor’s Report is a synopsis of changes in property values within the county for the period from June 30, 2010 to June 30, 2012, during which the total assessed value in the county declined by 18.3 percent.
The report’s take-away message seems to be that little has changed in the county during the last two years: vacant lands, single-family residences and condominiums have largely declined in value; real estate sales continue to be low, with foreclosed properties repressing sales in many neighborhoods; and commercial property sales have fluctuated. According to the county, these trends are in line with other Western Slope and ski area counties.
The Notice of Valuation that each property owner received represents property values for the same June 30, 2010 to June 30, 2012 period. Property value is determined by the county assessor using a formula based on the last five years of comparable property sales, with sales made early in the study period adjusted to reflect 2012 market conditions. It is the resulting number, used in combination with the state-set assessment rate and the mill levies (set by taxing districts), that determines property tax.
“The assessor’s office sets property value, not property taxes,” said Gunnison County assessor Kristy McFarland. “Property taxes are not known until the taxing districts set their mill levies, and they’re certified by the Board of County Commissioners—in December.”
Therefore, even if property values declined, property taxes will not necessarily also drop; the same is true of an increase in value.
“Each taxing entity has its own rules and regulations to apply when setting the mill levy,” said Crested Butte finance director Lois Rozman. “It will be months before we know what the final ramifications of the new valuations will be.”
In general for single-family residential properties, assessed values increased by 1.3 percent in Gunnison County; however, the majority of this increase occurred in the south end of the valley and in rural Gunnison County. The town of Crested Butte saw an overall decline in the median sales price of single-family residential properties, and Mt. Crested Butte saw only a very slight increase in condominium sales.
The big change seems to have occurred for a number of commercial properties within Crested Butte, where some values saw an almost 89 percent increase.
“After the last valuation we paid almost $4,700 in property taxes,” said Douglas Gorman, a certified public accountant and an owner of the Ore Bucket Commercial Center Condos. “If this assessment stands, and the mill levy does not change, we will be paying about $8,700.”
Colorado law, specifically the Gallagher Amendment, determines that commercial property be taxed at a set rate of 29 percent to make up 55 percent of the tax base (the residential tax rate changes annually and provides the other 45 percent of the base). At the time the law was made, this made sense, because roughly 55 percent of the property owned in the state was commercial, said Gorman. However, times have changed and now commercial property represents only about 25 percent of total property value in the state.
“Commercial property owners are still required to pick up 55 percent of the state’s total property tax, despite the fact that residential property now makes up the vast majority,” said Gorman. “This combined with how the assessment was done has led to a hard hit in many cases. All along Elk Avenue and through town commercial properties, especially commercial condos, are being severely affected.”
The 2013 Notice of Valuations for commercial property were compiled using a five-year data set that included sales from 2007 to 2012. The previous valuation relied on data from 2005 to 2010. In that reappraisal, sales at the beginning of the period were 18 percent higher than sales at the end. In the 2013 reappraisal, the difference between sales at the beginning of the period to the end was 12 percent down, according to the county assessor’s office.
“All sales are time-adjusted to reflect what they would have sold for on that reappraisal date. When older sales are used, they must be adjusted to compensate for any significant changes in the market since the sale occurred,” said McFarland. “Most of the Crested Butte commercial properties that experienced an increase for 2013 had a significant decrease from 2009 to 2011 and the resulting 2013 value is more often than not in between the 2009 and 2011 values.”
Residents have until the end of the day on June 1 to appeal their valuations. Appeals can be made by mail, fax, email or in person at the Gunnison County Assessor’s Office.
“We definitely encourage people who feel their value is not correct to appeal, or to at least visit with us and ask questions,” said McFarland. “They can call or stop by our office any time.”