Valuation notices delayed one month

Tax season has arrived, and along with it, Notices of Valuation should — under normal circumstances — be sent out May 1.

But, according to Archuleta County Assessor Keren Prior, these aren’t normal circumstances.

According to Prior, the recent multi-month software upgrade pulled her staff away from the task of researching sales and inputting data necessary to generate the notices; and, she said, in some cases her staff didn’t have access to the computers during the software changeover.

“We did not get off the dual network until March 9. As of last week, we had 422 subdivisions to put in, and 22 done,” Prior said. “It’s because of going to the new software. The new software installation was done right in the middle of a reappraisal year.”

That said, and in light of the challenges, Prior asked the board of county commissioners to approve pushing the entire notification and appeal timetable back 30 days.

The board agreed and Prior issued the following schedule.

• June 1 — mailing of real property Notices of Valuation.

• June 1 to July 1 — real property protest hearings.

• July 31 — mailing of real property Notices of Determination.

• Aug. 3 to Sept. 4 — County Board of Equalization hearings.

“With the new dates, we’re not denying anyone their due process,” Prior said.

In addition, she said the extra time would result in better research and hence — less protests. But Prior also acknowledged the delay would mean additional costs to the county in advertising and overtime. It was not clear what those costs might total.

But beyond costs to the county, and according to Prior, the Notices of Valuation will likely mean increases in property taxes and thus, increased costs to the taxpayer.

“Unfortunately, the current economic downturn will not be felt until the next reappraisal period,” Prior said.

During her most recent data gathering period — Jan. 1 2007 to June 30, 2008 — Prior said home sales on the Western Slope remained relatively robust, and initial analysis indicates a 15-percent increase in values across Archuleta County during said period.

By contrast, Prior said the subsequent data gathering period — Jan. 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 — may more accurately reflect the national economic downturn. Yet, even then, Prior anticipated Archuleta County residents would not see the magnitude of decreases experienced in other parts of the country.

“The Western Slope has not felt the economic bust as has the rest of the nation,” Prior said.

james@pagosasun.com