More than 1,800 protests of property values had been submitted in Pitkin County by the end of Wednesday and Assessor Deb Bamesberger believes that’s just the beginning.
“We could see another 3,000,” Bamesberger said Wednesday afternoon, basing her estimate on historical protest rates in reappraisal years that produced big jumps in values. “Typically in a revaluation year, we see the majority (of protests) come in during the last few days.”
The deadline for filing a protest, also known as an appeal, is June 8. Bamesberger said companies representing multiple property owners typically submit their protests right before the deadline, creating a last-day frenzy.
Notices of revaluations were mailed to property owners on May 1. Many property owners had sticker shock when they received their reappraisals because they didn’t feel their property was worth that much now, based on comments made in public meetings and in letters to the editors of local newspapers.
Bamesberger said the six appraisers on her staff are already looking at the appeals. The appraiser’s office must make adjustments or deny an appeal by June 30. The first round of decisions, formally known as a Notice of Determination, will be mailed on or about June 10, she said.
If Bamesberger’s instincts are correct on the total number of protests filed this year, it would be a new record in Pitkin County. In 2009, 4,576 protests were filed. Prior to the Great Recession, property values soared. But by the time the reappraisals were mailed out, the market had crashed. Property owners showed up in droves at the Pitkin County Courthouse to file their protests in person because emails weren’t accepted at that time.
Bamesberger worked for the assessor’s office at that time but wasn’t the assessor. She said the line of protesters snaked down the sidewalk in front of the courthouse.
In 2009, slightly more than one-third of the protests ended with an adjustment of value while the revaluation was upheld in two-thirds of the cases.
A scan of the appeals filed so far reveals a mix of longtime locals, limited liability companies, condominium associations and corporate entities such as Aspen Skiing Co., which is protesting the assessor’s valuation of two condos it owns in Snowmass Base Village.
In Eagle County, about 2,700 appeals have been filed to date, according to Assessor Mark Chapin.
“I don’t know where the numbers are going to go,” he said.
In 2009, the last time there was a drastic increase in reappraisals, about 8,000 appeals were filed in Eagle County, Chapin said. But he feels there were differences between that year and the current cycle.
The Great Recession hit and “the market just ended — like a cliff,” he said. “It was a very turbulent year.”
This year the market hasn’t collapsed in a similar way, he noted. The key factor that protesters must remember is that the reappraisals reflect the value as of June 30, 2022, Chapin said.
“I think most people know what the market is in their neighborhood,” he said.
He believes most appeals are made because people fear that tax bills will follow the path set by valuations. They assume a big jump in property value means a big jump in the tax bill.
That’s not necessarily the case, Chapin noted. Colorado property taxes are influenced by numerous state laws and regulations. In addition, taxing districts have the ability to grant a temporary reduction in the mill levy, which determines the tax rate.
“Will they? That remains to be seen,” Chapin said.
By: Scott Condon | Aspen Daily News \ June 1, 2023