County property valuations: ‘… not as ugly as we thought’


    Staff Writer

    Preliminary property tax figures are in for 2013 (paid in 2014), and things don’t look quite as bad as originally expected for Archuleta County.

    The totals are preliminary, however, until this summer, when the state-assessed values are known. Those preliminary figures are released by July 1 and the final numbers should be in the hands of county staff by Aug. 1.

    “It’s not as ugly as we thought it would be,” said Archuleta County Assessor Natalie Woodruff. “I’m very happy.”

    Now that assessed valuations are known (save for the state-assessed valuation), Notices of Value are being mailed out this week — some of which will be up, some down, and some the same.

    Reassessments occur every two years. This year’s reassessment is, in most cases, based on the market value of sales that occurred between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2012.

    Assessed valuation

    The following assessment information was provided by Woodruff.

    A total assessed valuation for the county, including an estimate for state-assessed valuation, lands at $303,405,980 — a decrease of $13,221,030 from 2012’s assessed valuation.

    Of that total assessed valuation for 2013, the majority — $210,699,890 — falls under Residential, with $47,204,600 for Commercial.

    Other areas of assessment include Industrial ($1,454,280), Agricultural ($6,766,880), Natural Resource ($28,993,430, this includes oil and gas), and State-Assessed (estimated at $8,286,900 based on last year).

    “I’m glad it wasn’t as bad as we thought it was going to be,” said Clifford Lucero, chair of the Board of County Commissioners, noting that county officials anticipated a decrease of about 20 percent from 2012’s assessment of $316,627,010.

    Agricultural valuation increased by $279,080 over 2012, with Woodruff noting that, with drought, yields decrease and the commodity price increases, making for a higher valuation.

    Commercial, too, provided an interesting valuation, with downtown commercial property dropping by an estimated 60 percent due to sales over the assessment period, but being balanced by the remainder of the commercial property in the county.

    And, while the total decrease in this year’s assessed valuations lands at over $13 million, it is only roughly 13 percent of the decrease Archuleta County experienced with between 2010 and 2011 with the 2011 reassessment, which was paid in 2012.

    In 2010, the assessed valuation rang in at $424,332,879, and dropped to $322,821,640 in 2011 — a drop of $101,511,239.

    Protest deadlines

    With the Notices of Value out, property owners looking to protest valuations of real property can now do so, beginning May 1 and ending June 3, according to Woodruff.

    Notices of Determination on those protests will then be sent out by the end of June, and property owners will have 15 days to further protest and request a hearing by the Board of Equalization, Woodruff explained.

    Those hearings must be completed by Aug. 5.

    For personal property, Notices of Value will be mailed out by June 15, with the protest period open from June 15 to June 30, noted Woodruff.

    Anticipated revenue

    While a valuation may benefit a homeowner paying less on his or her tax bill, the decrease is unfortunate for county coffers.

    The 2013 assessed valuation is predicted to mean a decrease of about $241,059 in revenue to Archuleta County, and will also affect the revenues for the numerous special districts that receive property tax funding.

    For the county, only one category is anticipated to produce increased revenue for the county in 2014 — Agricultural, with an increase of $5,088.

    That increase, though, looks to be offset by decreasing revenue in each other category, ranging from $394 from Natural Resource to $220,439 less in revenue from Residential.

    Again, the change expected in 2014 revenue is a fraction of the revenue decrease that hit the county in 2012 (from the 2011 valuation), when revenues to the county decreased more than $1.85 million.

    For 2012’s assessment, which included only adjustments, revenues to the county decreased by just under $113,000.

    County planning

    With estimates now known of how the reassessment will affect county coffers, attention has again turned to the county budget.

    “We’re not out of the woods yet. We have a lot of capital concerns to address, as well,” Lucero said.

    Prior to the valuations being known, County Attorney Todd Starr, at the time acting as interim administrator, suggested approximately $1.5 million in budget cuts for 2013 and 2014 at the request of the BoCC.

    Following those recommendations, which were not well-received by some county staff and officials, the board anticipated that budget hearings would be held to further inform any budget cuts.

    But new administrator Jesse Smith has decided to take a slightly different route.

    “We want to get the strategic planning started and roughed out so that we can budget to the strategic plan,” Smith said Wednesday.

    Smith said Woodruff and Clerk and Recorder June Madrid are working to provide him with a list of year-round county residents.

    With that list, Smith will work to compose a number of focus groups that should be of help (estimating three to five groups) and will randomly select and invite citizens to serve as members of the groups.

    Smith said he hopes that process will be done by June.

    These focus groups, Smith said, would then work to determine what the citizens see as the future and desired direction of the county, as well as measurable objectives.

    “It’ll be done by the citizens,” Smith said.