Assessment complaints fewer than feared

Mesa County Assessor Barbara Brewer is not relaxing yet, but she is breathing a mild sigh of relief.

Brewer was anticipating a mad throng of property owners storming her office once they received their property valuations, which were mailed May 1. But the angry masses have not materialized.

“We’re just kind of buzzing along. Everything seems to be going well,” Brewer said.

The valuations reflect the housing market from January 2007 to June 2008, when it was riding high. Most homeowners, however, realize their property values, which determine their taxes, have either remained flat or decreased since June.

To remind all assessor’s office visitors of that, Brewer and her crew are all wearing large circular stickers that read: “Property valued as of June 30, 2008.”

Some protesters have phoned, made appointments and come to the office.

Brewer said she senses that this year is slightly busier than the last reassessment year of 2007.

“This increase is not to the same level as two years ago,” she said. “But the perception is different. Two years ago, they knew we were in a hot market.”

Whether it’s a hot or a cold market, husband and wife Steve and Bobbi Miller said they always make the trip from Glade Park to the Old Mesa County Courthouse, 544 Rood Ave., to protest their assessment.

“It’s like people who don’t vote and then complain about the administration,” Bobbi Miller said. “When they do assessments, they do generalizations.”

The Millers said every couple years they visit the assessor’s office and point out discrepancies in their assessment. More often than not, they convince the office to dispatch an appraiser to Glade Park and take a look. Usually their assessment is lowered, they said.

Another protester, who asked that his name not be printed because he is working on several real estate deals, said he checked recent sales of homes in his neighborhood the minute he received his valuation notice. The home sales in his neighborhood reflected lower values than what his home was assessed at, he said. The assessor’s office agreed to send an appraiser out and take a closer look at his property and, perhaps, lower his assessment.

If property owners have questions, or believe their assessment is inaccurate, Brewer said,
“We want them to come in.”

Sometimes, protests turn out in favor of the property owner. Other times it is an education.

The assessor’s office can explain to property owners how the assessment process works and why the values are what they are, Brewer said.

“They may not like it, but they understand,” she said.


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