County assessor mailing notices of valuation

Notices of Valuation from the Archuleta County Assessor’s Office should hit mailboxes in the coming days, and taxpayers should note the notice’s arrival sets the clock ticking on a protest and appeal process should the taxpayer choose to dispute the assessor’s value of their property.

Archuleta County Assessor Keren Prior said Notices of Valuation are normally mailed May 1, but a multi-month software upgrade project caused delays, pushing the timetable back by one month.

Despite the setback, Prior said no one will be denied their due process — hence the commissioner-approved, revised schedule below.

• 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.

A Notice of Valuation is not a property tax bill. Instead, it lists the property’s value, which ultimately determines how much property tax is paid.

Prior said despite the recent economic downturn, property owners will likely see that their property values have increased, which means they will pay higher property taxes then last year.

The reason, Prior said, is due to the data gathering period mandated by statute. For example, the most recent data gathering period used to set property values — Jan. 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008 — shows that real property values remained strong on the Western Slope and in Archuleta County.

In fact, initial analysis, Prior said, indicated a 15-percent increase in real property values across the county. Although the numbers did not climb as high in the end — a final report from the assessor’s office shows a 12.89-percent increase — two sectors of land classification made major leaps.

According to Prior, vacant land saw the biggest jump during the assessment period with a 27.51-percent increase in value. The second largest leap came with residential properties whose values, on average increased 23.89-percent across the county. Agricultural land, on the average, also increased in value, jumping 9.24 percent. Commercial properties also saw increases, with values rising 8.44 percent, on the average and across the county. The only sector to see a decrease was industrial, which dropped 4.61 percent.

Unfortunately, this means many property owners will have to wait until next year to see relief on their property tax bill.

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

Prior explained that the subsequent data gathering period — Jan. 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, may more accurately reflect the local impact of the national economic downturn. Yet, despite an anticipated decline in values, Prior anticipated Archuleta County property owners are not likely to see the same drops in valuations as those 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