Rebound may be ahead after valuations plunge

The assessed value of most property in Mesa County declined again in 2013, although not by as large a percentage as the last time local properties were re-assessed.

Assessed values are a percentage of actual property value (7.96 percent for residential, 29 percent for nonresidential) used to calculate property taxes. Mesa County Assessor Barb Brewer announced this week the assessed value of all residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and vacant land in the county is $1,432,785,930 as of June 29. That’s down 8.7 percent from the same time in 2012, when the assessed value of each of those categories of land, known collectively as “real” property, was $1,569,292,230.

A drop of nearly 9 percent is a far cry from the increases typical of assessment years in the mid-2000’s but not as high as the initial crash at the turn of the decade. Assessed real property values plummeted 16.7 percent in 2011 compared with 2009, using final, end-of-the-year tallies. The county’s assessed values are first released in July each year but can change by December 1, after the valuation appeals process concludes in the fall.

The assessor’s office re-assesses property values every odd-numbered year. Numbers vary slightly from year to year because of construction, demolition, or properties going from taxable to tax exempt status or vice-versa.

The assessments made in 2013 are used to calculate property taxes to be paid in 2014. Each assessment is based on sales of similar properties made between Jan. 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012. Brewer said the real estate market was beginning to slip at the start of the time when the last assessments were calculated using Jan. 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, real estate sales, giving a reason for the larger slide in 2011 values compared with pre-recession 2009 assessments, but explaining why numbers still had room to decrease again in the still economically struggling time frame used for 2013 assessments.

“We’ve been in a down market for the last two reappraisals. But we’re starting to see a little uptick in values,” Brewer said. “In 2015, I think we will have increased some.”

Value, taxes

Real estate sales in the county increased 18.5 percent in the 18 months used for 2013 assessments compared with the 18 months used for 2011 assessments, according to Advanced Title Company in Grand Junction. However, real estate sales dollars declined 5.9 percent over the same period.

Chris Brown, owner of Brown Cycles at 549 Main St., said the assessed value of his home decreased by about 6 percent this year compared with last year, but the value of his business property increased by about 4 percent. He said he has no strong feelings on the assessments because he plans to stay in his home and his business “for the long haul.” But he understands how some people may be concerned if they want to sell or build equity.

“It’s a double-edged sword because you want your property value to go up but you want your taxes to go down,” Brown said.

Evan Gluckman, owner of Main St. Cafe at 504 Main St., said his commercial property value “only went down by a couple hundred dollars” but his home has lost 30 to 40 percent of its value since pre-recession days, by his estimate. Still, he said the assessor’s actual value and the price he could list his home for differ.

“It’s in a pretty desirable neighborhood. It would be an easy sell,” he said.

Appeals process

Residential land makes up 47.6 percent of all real property in the county this year. Commercial makes up 33.8 percent of real property, industrial comprises 6.6 percent of real property, and vacant and agricultural land takes up 6.5 and 5.5 percent of real property in the county, respectively.

Property owners received property valuation statements beginning May 1 and had until last Friday to appeal an assessment determination through the assessor’s office. Of the more than 72,000 property owners who got a notice, Brewer said 1,596 appealed. One appeal was voided, another was adjusted with stipulations, 55 people were satisfied with an explanation for the assessment change, 660 people had their appeals denied and 879 had assessments adjusted after they provided evidence their property was worth more or less than estimated.

The 660 people who had their appeals denied can still take their case to county commissioners, referred to during the appeals process as the board of equalization, by mailing a copy of the assessor’s property notice of determination postmarked by this coming Monday to the board. Anyone who appeals and is denied by that board can still approach the board of assessment appeals, district court, or the county commissioners within 30 days of a denial by the board of equalization.

Brewer said she will release assessor’s office tallies for business personal property and state-assessed property Monday. Those categories encompass natural resource land, public utilities, railroads, energy lines, and items used for business, such as equipment.


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