With property values shooting up around the county, what you need to know about corresponding property tax increases
April 30, 2017
Property owners may protest the reappraisal of their property throughout the month of May. They can do so:
» In person (appointment) — Call (970) 400-3650 or (720) 652-4255 to set up an appointment. Appointments will be scheduled between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
» By mail — Weld County Assessor, 1400 N. 17th Ave., Greeley, CO 80631; include your name, property address or location, account or parcel number, phone number and the reason you’re appealing your value.
» By fax — You can fax your appeal information to (970) 304-6433, including the same information you would for mailed appeals.
» Email — You can email your appeal to firstname.lastname@example.org, including the same information you would for mailed appeals.
» Online — You can submit an electronic form online, including the same information you would for mailed appeals. Website: http://www.weldgov.com/departments/assessor.
Most property owners in Weld County will receive a notice of reappraisal this week, and most will see that the value of their property has gone up — on average, by 20 percent.
The Weld County assessor will send out notices of valuation today to more than 130,000 properties, part of the biennial appraisal system first started in Colorado in the 1980s.
Every two years, assessors throughout the state determine property values within their counties. They do so by looking at property sales in the time since the last reappraisal.
In Weld's case, there were about 13,000 property sales between June 30, 2014, and June 30, 2016, and those sales showed significant increases in property values — 25 percent to 40 percent in residential market value for this reappraisal, according to a news release from the assessor's office.
“Our database of property information continues to improve, which sets the stage for better values in the future.
— Chris Woodruff, Weld County assessor
There are bound to be questions about the process. Below are some answers:
Why are property values going up?
Weld County Assessor Chris Woodruff said much of the increase came from the fact that the Great Recession, and its impact on real estate values here, is largely over. Further, the reduction in the number of foreclosure re-sales removed a significant drag on market value, according to Woodruff's release.
"Take that, along with the economic boom brought on by oil and gas development and a shortage of housing supply, and you have all the ingredients for increased property values," Woodruff said.
There are other factors, including additions or improvements to property, as well as missing information the assessor's office has since found (a finished basement, or correction in square footage, for example).
Although not to the extent of residential increases, Weld County also will see value increases for vacant development land, commercial and industrial properties and agricultural buildings, according to the release.
State law is specific about how property is assessed, specifying information, appraisal methods and date of appraisals. It also sets up a system in which an independent auditor, hired by the Legislature, checks all appraisal records.
What if I don't agree with the value the county assigns my property?
Woodruff admits the county's appraisals aren't always correct, which is why the entire month of May is a designated protest period.
During that time, property owners can protest their valuation in person, by appointment, mail, fax, email or online.
Woodruff said he expects about 5,000 property owners to protest this year. The county will respond in late June.
For more information on the protest process, go to http://www.weldgov.com/departments/assessor.
Woodruff said his office is pleased with the results of the reappraisal, and internal audit results show properties were valued near the market.
"Our database of property information continues to improve, which sets the stage for better values in the future," Woodruff said.
For Woodruff, the future is now, as his office already has begun collecting information on sales prices and other value markers for the May 2019 reappraisal.
What does that mean for me?
In a typical year, a 20 percent to 40 percent property value increase would equal a 20 percent to 40 percent property tax increase.
Luckily for residents — but not so luckily for some government entities — this year is different. For the first time in 12 years, a Colorado constitutional amendment will trigger a decrease in the residential property tax rate.
Some background: Colorado voters passed the Gallagher Amendment in 1982, which created a fractional assessment system in which different types of property are taxed at different rates.
The goal of the amendment was to keep the value of all residential property in the state at 45 percent of the value of all property in the state. The reasoning is that without such a cap, home values — and corresponding property taxes — could skyrocket and hurt homeowners.
For the past 12 years, residential property has been taxed at 7.96 percent, compared with 87.5 percent for oil and gas production and 29 percent for everything else.
Next year, the assessment rate will drop to 7.2 percent.
That means a $100,000 house has just $7,200 of its value taxed. Last year, it would have been $7,960.
The drop represents a 10 percent savings compared to home value increases, meaning homeowners won't feel the full sting of increased values.
Can you be more specific?
The notice of value property owners get in the mail this week also will include an estimate of the change in taxes for the property.
That estimate, though, uses last year's mill levies, so it may not be completely accurate.
Let's talk about mill levies. One mill is equal to about 0.001, so you multiply the number of mills you have by 0.001, then multiply that by your assessed value (the $7,200 number we talked about earlier).
School districts, cities, the county, library districts and other entities can assess mills. So, if the combined number of mills was 100, and your house was worth $100,000, your taxes would be $720 per year.
Mill levies won't be finalized until December, so any estimate the assessor sends you this week is just that, an estimate.
— Tyler Silvy covers city and county government for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at email@example.com. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.