Summit County property tax assessments are higher |

Summit County property tax assessments are higher

KIMBERLY NICOLETTIsummit daily newsSummit County, Colorado

Homeowners, Dont freak out. Youre about to get your property tax assessment in the mail. And, in some cases, the value of Summit County homes has risen by more than 40 percent. But Summit County assessor Beverly Breakstone said the increase doesnt necessarily mean youll owe a lot more in property taxes next year.Were very hopeful taxes dont go up much, Breakstone said. The good news is, values have gone up.This years property tax assessments are based on the 3,119 sales from Jan. 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008. And, during that time, most areas still showed a hefty increase in prices. Sales that occurred after June 30, 2008 wont be compiled for assessment values until 2011.While some homeowners may be upset that the recent real-estate slowdown probably wont be reflected in this years tax assessment, theres nothing the county can do; it is subject to Title 39 of the Constitution, which defines the time periods Breakstone can compile. Breakstone said the county realizes, and empathizes with the fact that the last six months of 2008 data could decrease property valuations, but her hands are tied. The county did throw out the last six months of 2006 when sales were going gangbusters, because assessors thought they would be pumping in a great increase, she said. She added that homeowners might see the decrease in 2011, but only if real-estate sales continue to slow.This (recent decrease) could just be a blip, she said.Still, those homeowners who like to see small, rather than large, increases in the countys valuation of their properties can rest assured knowing they wont be paying 30 percent more in taxes if their property value went up by 30 percent.

While property taxes do increase with values, the mathematical calculation is not as simple as multiplying the home value by the assessor ratio of 7.96 percent, multiplied by the mill levy. Two amendments and three other factors weigh into the final amount of taxes homeowners pay.First, the Tabor Amendment sets limits on how much any taxing entity such as schools, fire departments, water and sanitation departments and, in Summit Countys case, Colorado Mountain College can use.Second, the Gallagher Amendment restricts residential owners to paying only 45 percent of the tax burden, which has collectively saved homeowners nearly $11 billion in property taxes since the amendment passed in 1982. That also means commercial real estate, industrial, vacant landowners and mining claims have paid disproportionately more; a $1.3 million home would pay $5,588 in taxes, while a piece of vacant valued the same would pay $20,361, Breakstone said.The three factors that affect amounts individual residents pay are: population, total value of property in the county and taxing entities budgets.Since 2007, Summit County has added more than 300 new taxpayers including commercial buildings such as Walgreens to distribute tax costs. Moreover, the total value of property in the county has increased from $10.9 billion in 2005 to $17.9 billion in 2009. (This number may decrease slightly, depending on how many property owners appeal to the county for a re-evaluation of their propertys worth.) Finally, the budgets of the taxing entities (schools, fire departments, etc.), which come out in November, affect tax rates. If budgets dont increase significantly, taxes wont be affected as dramatically.With these three factors considered, property taxes may increase, but at a percentage much lower than the increase in county property value(s), Breakstone said.

Breakstone presented a wealth of data Thursday at a PowerLUNCH held by the Summit Chamber of Commerce at Quality Inn & Suites in Silverthorne. Her presentation broke down sales by area, type of property, numbers of foreclosures and more (see box for a snapshot of information). She then compared current numbers to those dating back to 2006.She will hold an open meeting to discuss property values at 9 a.m. Friday, May 8 at the Community and Senior Center in Frisco. Early next week complete data can be found at

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