Most property taxes likely to rise as well but commercial property could see a decrease
By Mark Reaman
It’s not simple, and there are a lot of factors that come into play, but as Gunnison County homeowners open their new Notice of Valuations that should arrive in the mail the first week of May, most will see a huge jump in the number that ultimately will impact their property tax bill. Property owners should expect to see a valuation increase ranging somewhere between 30% and 70% over the previous Notice of Valuation, and Gunnison County assessors predict that increase could result in a rise of your property taxes of between 5% to 35% depending on individual ciurcumstances.
All of Colorado, and particularly the Western Slope, experienced a strong demand for real estate during the COVID period. Because people were paying premium prices for real estate in June of 2022, the valuation of county properties will reflect that tremendous increase. Under Colorado law, county assessors across the state conduct a revaluation of all properties in their county every two years. The 2023 valuations are based on a June 30, 2022 level of value and were established using market sales data from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2022. These new valuations will be used for tax years 2023 and 2024 (payable in 2024 and 2025, respectively).
Gunnison County Assessor’s Office communications manager William Spicer said notices will go out May 1 and local owners of residential property and vacant land can expect to see a huge jump in the official valuations of the property. Those higher valuations will mean that most residential and vacant land property owners will be paying significantly higher property taxes for 2023 with payments due in 2024. Commercial property owners might actually see a decrease in their taxes.
“The median increases vary across the county and people should realize the increase in taxes will not be as large as the increase in value,” Spicer noted.
“This is because assessment rates are dropping for 2023, and mill levies will also fall for some taxing entities because of statutory revenue caps. In general terms, we estimate the change in taxes to be about 0.8 of the change in value. So, a 50% increase in value (change = 1.5) would likely result in a 20% increase in taxes (1.5 x 0.8 = 1.2). It’s worth mentioning that the picture is rosier for commercial property owners who will see much more modest value increases. For most commercial properties, reductions in the assessment rate and mill levies will outweigh any increases in value, and those tax bills will actually go down.”
Across the county, vacant land will see a big pop with parcels in the south valley experiencing the largest percentage increase. The land in the north valley will continue to be the most expensive real estate and that increase will be noticeable.
Using the example of a Crested Butte house valued at $1 million the last go round, Spicer explained that individual value changes will vary based on each property’s characteristics. But he said that typically, a house in Crested Butte valued at $1 million as of June 30, 2020, will now be worth $1.46 million as of June 30, 2022. In the area surrounding Crested Butte in the north valley, that new value will be more like $1.62 million.
“A $1 million house in the Town of CB would have paid about $5,500 in tax in 2023 (for tax year 2022). That will rise to about $6,500 in 2024 (for tax year 2023),” Spicer explained. “That’s an 18% increase. A $1 million house in the rural North Valley might typically have paid $5,500 as well (specific tax amounts vary by location because of the different taxing entities involved. For example, a house in Skyland would be higher than CB South because Skyland Metro District has its own sizeable levy). But that typical $5,500 for tax year 2022 would now increase to about $7,300 for 2023. That’s a 33% increase.”
This giant increase in valuations is somewhat unusual. “During my tenure, this is the biggest two-year change I can recall,” Spicer concluded. “It’s worth pointing out that although the increase is large, Gunnison County is in the same boat as many other counties in the state. Colorado generally, and the Western Slope in particular, is seeing exceptional value increases in the 2023 reappraisal.”
Nevertheless, the assessor’s office expects a deluge of appeals. Spicer said the most appeals he can recall were filed in 2009 when the office received about 2,500 appeals. He said that could happen again, but he thinks many of the current property owners understand how hot the housing market was in 2021 and 2022 so they are expecting the big increase.
Property owners can file an appeal between May 1 and June 8. “The best way to appeal is via email,” Spicer said. “No special form is required; just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include your account number and basic information about why you are protesting your value. You’ll get an email back confirming that your appeal has been received. We’re happy to talk to people about their valuation over the phone, but we can’t initiate a formal appeal by phone – it has to be in person or in writing.”
The Assessor’s Office has a new web app available this year called Comper, which can be accessed at: https://www.gunnisoncounty.org/132/Assessors-Office. Spicer said this tool provides an easy way for taxpayers to identify sales of properties similar to theirs, and confirm that the assessor’s valuation is supported by market data. Property owners can even print a customized comparable sales report and submit that with an appeal if they believe the assessor’s valuation is incorrect.