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4/25/2013 County Assessor: Valuation notices to go out next week


The Custer County Assessor will send out Notices of Valuation to all county property owners on May 1, and most property owners will see little or no change in the value of their property from the last valuation period of 2011.

“For tax year 2013, Colorado state statutes require that we use sales in 2011 and the first half of 2012 in using the market approach to set values. During this timeframe, sales prices of residential properties stayed steady or decreased slightly while sales prices of vacant land stayed steady or increased slightly,” County Assessor J.D. Henrich said.

According to Henrich, 2013 is known as a reappraisal year for the entire state of Colorado and all property classifications must be revalued using current data. In Custer County, this affects different property classifications in different ways.

“Properties containing a residence should see a slight decrease in value anywhere from .5 percent to 2 percent, depending on the type of residence and which area of the county the residence is located. Most vacant land will see no increase with some areas increasing from 1 to 10 percent depending upon the individual parcel’s amenities and location within the county,” Henrich said.

 Henrich noted that overall, agricultural properties will see the largest changes. “Dry grazing land won’t change much, but irrigated and meadow hay land will increase by 3 to 5 percent. This is driven by the large increase in the selling price of hay over the last few years.”

New to the property tax process in Custer County this year is the implementation of a new property class called property not integral to agricultural operation. This classification was actually created by the Colorado Legislature last year, but was optional for 2012. Colorado counties must implement the new classification for property tax year 2013.

“Basically, if a property containing a residence has the land classified as agricultural use, but the person or persons occupying the residence are not directly involved in the agricultural operation on the land, then two acres must be taken out of agricultural classification and valued as residential land. This is very common for property that is leased for agricultural use. The owner leases the land and receives payment for the lease, but is not involved in the day to day operations of the cattle or hay operation on his or her land. Thus, the two acres under the residence is considered not integral to the agricultural operation and is valued differently from the rest of the land. Properties receiving this new classification should expect to see their valuation rise as much as $10,000 actual value, resulting in an increase in taxes of up to $50,” said Henrich.

Henrich added that he was not personally in favor of the new classification, and that implementing it has been difficult and costly to the county. “If you are Aspen, Vail, or Steamboat Springs, it added millions of dollars of valuation to the tax roll. For most of the other counties, it added little and may cost more to put in place than it will bring in revenue. And it is another unfunded mandate from the State.”

  Henrich noted that the Notices of Valuation mailed out by his office will also contain an estimated tax amount to help people budget for their annual property tax burden.

“This is only an estimate because we won’t be able to figure the actual tax for a property until the mill levy is set by the taxing districts in December. I wanted to include it, however, to give people a ballpark figure so that their tax bill in January would not be a total surprise.”

Henrich noted that the valuation set by the Assessor is only one of three components which make up the tax bill. The assessment rate is set by the Colorado State Legislature every two years, and the mill levy is set by the individual taxing entities each year.

“If you feel that your valuation is incorrect, you may appeal that valuation to this office. We can only accept appeals of the property valuation, however, and not appeals of the property tax amount. If you feel that your valuation is correct but the taxes are too high, you need to talk to the taxing entities or your State Legislator about the tax rates,” said Henrich.

If you do feel that your property valuation is incorrect, there is a definite appeal process in place, and details of the appeal process are contained on the back of the Notice of Valuation. Anyone needing further information on this process can contact the Custer County Assessor’s Office at 719/783-2218 or at 205 S. 6th Street, Westcliffe, CO 81252 during normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If you feel that your valuation is in error, the most important thing to remember is to file a timely appeal. Appeals filed by mail or fax must be postmarked or sent no later than June 3, 2013 in order to be accepted. Appeals filed in person must also be made no later than June 3, 2013 to be accepted. Appeals after this date are not considered to be made in a timely manner and can not be accepted by the Assessor. In addition, appeals can not be filed by telephone since Colorado law requires all appeals to be written.

“Anyone who has questions about their valuation or who needs further information should feel free to contact the Assessor’s Office. We will do our best to help people understand their valuation and the property tax process,” Henrich added.