49 percent are successful
Thousands buck assessments on property tax
By LE ROY STANDISH
Mesa County Assessor Barb Brewer is sleeping easier these days.
The mad rush of several thousand residents, anxious to challenge their 2009 property tax assessment, never materialized. Instead, it was an average year.
Because the economy had fallen so far from its high point in 2008, Brewer said she was anticipating many more challenges than the 4,600 her office received. The notices of valuation, 70,056 mailed to residents on May 1, covered a period from January 2007 to July 2008.
“I think we did pretty good this year,” Brewer told the Mesa County Board of Equalization, which is led by the three members of the Mesa County Commission, on Monday.
“We had actually anticipated 7,000 to 8,000 (people challenging their assessments). We actually had 4,628.”
Of that number almost half, 49 percent, who protested their assessment won their challenge.
Every two years, when the Assessor’s Office does re-appraisals, it receives an average of 4,000 protests, based on the last two decades.
Brewer said that in 1987, during the oil shale bust, Mesa County may have seen a record number of protests filed.
“We had over 10,000 protests, and we had a downturn economy,” she said.
Most people who were successful in their protest, which had to be filed in May, were able to tell the Assessor’s Office something it did not know about their property.
Some successful appeals involved checking the sale price of neighboring homes and being able to show a disparity in value, a different square footage of a home was recorded by the assessor than actually exists, an inferior access than the one on record in the assessor’s office is used to enter and leave the property; or the property is in a markedly different condition than what was understood by appraisers.
If property owners had a valid appeal, “we made the appropriate adjustments,” Brewer said.
On the flip side, there where nearly the same number of people who did not file a successful protest.
“For the most part, they were denied because we had solid documentation for comparison,” Brewer said.
One thing that stuck out in the numbers from this year’s assessment was oil and gas production. The assessed value of oil and gas production went from $60.29 million in 2007 to $87.78 million.
“A $27 1/2 million increase in oil and gas,” Brewer said. “That is a huge increase.”
The next assessment cycle could see the opposite with oil and gas.
“Production is going to be down, I’d say, and so we are not going to have that assessed value to tax,” she said. “And that could affect us some. ... We are not going to have the revenue.”
Brewer, who is required by state law to make reports on the valuation and appeals process to the Board of Equalization, will present the commission with a report of valuation of all taxable personal property on Wednesday.