A tough assessment for property owners

We don’t envy Mesa County Assessor Barbara Brewer or any of her fellow assessors this year.

Faced with a downturn in the real-estate market, they will be explaining to a lot of people why their homes or other properties are currently assessed for more than the amount the owners could probably receive if they sold the property right now.

As Brewer told The Daily Sentinel’s Gary Harmon, “This is the first time in 22 years that we’ll have to say they probably can’t sell the house for the value we have on it.”

But don’t blame the county assessors. They operate under a state law that legally prohibits them from using current value for the property. Instead, they must use values from the middle of last year.

The law that requires using values which can be up to two years old protects owners when property values are rising rapidly, as they have been in this area for the past 15 years and more. But when a downturn in real estate values occurs — as is the case now and occurred in the mid-1980s — property owners may see a value on their homes and land for tax purposes that is higher than its current value.

It’s an issue the state Legislature should re-examine. But that isn’t likely to happen in the midst of the current budget crisis.


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