Despite the closure of two of the three mines in the North Fork Valley, property values in Delta County have increased, assessor Debbie Griffith reports.
The number of transactions also jumped dramatically, with 52 percent more residential sales and nearly twice the number of vacant land sales during the reappraisal period.
Under Colorado law, county assessors' offices throughout the state conduct a complete revaluation of all properties in their county every two years. The Colorado Legislature sets the appraisal date, the market sales data collection period, and the annual calendar for the assessment process.
The reappraisal process recently completed by Griffith and her staff shows property values increased by 0.5 percent. Without oil/gas figures, property values in Delta County total $313,017,883.
The new values were established using market sales data from Jan. 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, and will be used for tax years 2017 and 2018 (payable in 2018 and 2019 respectively). Sales transactions occurring after June 30, 2016, cannot be considered until the 2019 reappraisal.
Griffith reports residential property values increased an average of 7 percent overall, although the North Fork carried the majority of the increase. Griffith said the county's newest residents are buying a "lifestyle" that features friendly residents, low-stress atmosphere and reasonable living expenses.
Most commercial properties increased 4 percent. Vacant land is up 9.5 percent, again driven by the robust market in the North Fork Valley.
Agricultural land experienced the largest increase in value of all property classes. Agricultural land is valued based on the earning capacity of the land; the calculation uses a 10-year statewide average of commodity prices. For this re-assessment cycle, two historic low years of commodity prices were removed and two more recent higher priced commodity years were added. This factor along with stabilized operating expenses resulted in a significant increase of about 30 percent for irrigated land in Delta County. Most agricultural grazing land increased by about 9 percent. This trend of double-digit increases in irrigated land and single-digit increases in non-irrigated land was experienced not only in Delta County, but across the entire Western Slope of Colorado, Montrose County assessor Brad Hughes noted.
Three factors determine the level of taxes on a property -- the market valuation, the assessment rate and the mill levy.
The assessor's office is solely responsible for establishing valuations, not taxes. To accomplish this, the assessor uses actual market sales transactions to build a mass appraisal valuation model that is then used to set the values on all properties within the county. Assessment rates are dictated by the Colorado Constitution and State Law for all 64 Colorado Counties.
Currently, the assessment rate is 7.96 percent for residential properties, and 29 percent for most all other property types. However, House Bill 17-1349 is currently in the Legislature awaiting approval. If this bill is passed, it will reduce the current residential assessment rate to an estimated 7.2 percent. If approved, this change will offset a portion of the residential tax burden created by the increasing home values. Preliminary indications project that a 15 percent residential increase in actual value will translate to only about a 4 percent increase in assessed value.
The last component used to calculate taxes is the mill levy. Mill levies are established by the county commissioners, school districts and the boards of the various taxing entities (fire, ambulance, library, cemetery, etc.). A summation of these various individual levies is applied to the assessed value to determine the taxes due. The county treasurer's office collects and distributes these taxes for the various taxing jurisdictions.
Please review your new Notice of Valuation, which will be mailed early this month. If you disagree with the new valuation, there are detailed procedures on the back of the notice explaining how to appeal your valuation. For additional information, contact the Delta County Assessor's Office at 874-2120.
(Editor's note: This article is based in part on a press release issued by Montrose County assessor Brad Hughes.)