Boards should give Vail Valley taxpayers a break |

Boards should give Vail Valley taxpayers a break

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail, CO, Colorado

Go ahead and appeal your latest property assessment if you must, and good luck with that.

But the real battle is not with the county Assessor’s Office but the county commissioners and 80 or so other property taxing entities in Eagle County. The assessor followed strict guidelines that led to valuations rising by 10 percent to 45 percent in the teeth of recession.

Appraisers were handcuffed by this period of the inspections, which ended June 2008, back when the bubble had not yet burst here. Even now, prices hold at least in theory.

Properties simply are not selling because who is going to pay? Even then, it may well be as much the freeze in credit as anything that keeps sales low. That and sellers so far have been patient and not biting on low offers.

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We’ll see whether the storm passes before sellers have to let their places go at down-market prices, or foreclosures build up enough to settle things in their way.

In the meantime, appealing the appraisal will work at roughly the same rate that it has always worked. Some will be happy with the outcome, and some most definitely won’t.

All this means the public servants on the boards and councils that collect property taxes will have their own gut checks in the coming months.

The next great assessment surely will reflect the recessionary effect. But property owners are struggling now. A break in their property taxes is needed now.

Meantime, local governments are struggling with that big drop in sales tax revenue and the various fees they charge on construction. So they feel the need to keep what other windfalls may come.

They also are concerned about Colorado’s constitutional amendment TABOR, which makes the sensible idea of lowering the property tax rate easy but requires an election to raise those rates back when necessary.

And there remains the “free” money issue in a county in which half the property owners live out of town. Give the locals a break and government will miss out on the revenue from all those surely wealthy folks who can afford the taxes, right?

At root, this is a test of our community leaders. What’s more important to them, all the neat things government can do with some funding? Or making economic life for the constituents a little easier in a tough downturn?

We think they should tilt toward the latter in these times. The taxpayers have more need for breaks than programs right now.

Vail Daily Editorial Board

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