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More than 400 property owners set for BOE hearings

With more than 400 property valuation protests set to go before the Archuleta County Board of Equalization (BOE), county staff is scrambling to overcome a variety of logistical challenges, including who will hear the cases, where the hearings will occur, and how many weeks will be needed to guarantee taxpayers receive their due process.

To that end, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners authorized the use of Board of Equalization referees during their Aug.18 meeting, and that panel will hear the protests, then provide recommendations to the commissioners who will make the final determination on each case.

According to Archuleta County Administrator Greg Schulte, referee contracts have been offered to Carol Lynn, Wayne Jeffries, Steve Johnson and Geoffrey Williams — all experienced BOE referees used for the same purposes in La Plata County. As of Tuesday, two of those contracts had come back, with the other two pending.

Schulte said that although using referees will cost the county about $9,000, it will allow the commissioners time to focus on county business and prepare the 2010 budget.

It is anticipated that conducting the BOE hearings will take five to six weeks. Hearings should commence the week of Sept. 7 and are targeted for completion by mid-October. Archuleta County Assessor Keren Prior said she has about 20 cases ready to go before the board, but will be hard pressed to have all 400 cases ready by Sept. 7.

“If we can get 25 cases done in a week, we feel fortunate. It’s very overwhelming. I don’t know how to work it out, but we need time to put our best case forward. It’s very overwhelming for everybody right now,” Prior said.

For those anticipating a Board of Equalization hearing, county staff will be in contact with those individuals during the next week.