Here’s how it works
Her acronym of “A”ccurate, “R”easonable and “F”air is what my term in office has been. Accuracy can be verified by the fact that we have again passed the state audit, the fourth time out of my four years in office (eight if you count the previous term). Reasonable – any time a taxpayer has proven us incorrect (and sometimes we are), we have corrected the problem; that’s reasonable. Fair – accurate and reasonable equals fair. No one should pay more than their fair share of the tax burden.
The public is extremely comfortable asking questions of this office. That is one reason we processed almost 5,000 appeals at the assessor level in 2001. Slightly over 1,000 went on to the county Board of Equalization. Of that number, about 12 property owners went on to the state Board of Assessment Appeals, not the 5,000 inaccurately stated by my opponent.
For your information, this year we processed 465 appeals at the assessor level.
Anyone who thinks there is something wrong with the number of appeals does not understand the system. Of the approximately 34,000 taxable properties, over 11,000 are owned by out-of-state owners. Few of these owners know or understand Colorado property tax laws. If you own a second home in Eagle County, you most certainly have the money to hire lawyers or tax consultants to appeal the value of that property. Everyone that appeals has the right to do so. Colorado state statutes give all of us that right for our protection.
Longtime homeowners and people on fixed income have been granted a tax exemption by the state of Colorado. If a person meets the three specific requirements (age, ownership, residency) they will receive an exemption of up to $100,000 on their real property valuation. Colorado law does not allow the assessor to value property based on the owner’s age or how long they have lived in Colorado. We are required to value the property based on its use and physical attributes.
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As for teamwork, this office works together daily. The staff worked as a team to establish our motto: We Value Eagle County! Everyone is requested to communicate their ideas and concerns. Everyone is cross-trained so they understand how their particular job fits in with everyone else’s. This is crucial in order to meet the numerous deadlines this office is required to meet by state statute.
The Eagle County Assessor’s Office under my leadership has been recognized in the newspaper (see the Vail Daily, March 7, 2000) for their customer service. I regularly receive letters and phone calls from the public complimenting this office and the staff on their professionalism, their knowledge and their willingness to share information.
It is not easy to be polite and professional when attacked by wannabes with no knowledge of how and why the property tax system works the way it does. Property assessment is far more technical and very different from assessing tap fees for a water district.
Eagle County Assessor
Congratulations to the organizers of the first, hopefully annual, Colorado-Eagle River Ride! I have ridden in many bike tours and centuries, and our first local one is one of the best.
Thanks to Eagle County, SOS, Colorado State Patrol, Beaver Creek Resort, and I am sure many other hard-working individuals who made this ride truly memorable. Fresh peaches at the aid stations, a wonderful meal at Rendezvous Restaur-ant, the unending views along the River Road, and the greatest tailwind of all time to push us to the finish line, all made for a fine day.
Let’s see a bigger turnout for next year so that many dollars can be raised for the youth of Eagle County.
Start training and realize the accomplishment of a hundred mile ride!
Rachel Van Sloun
Here’s the poop
Aggie Chastain’s letter last week regarding problems with uncontrolled dogs in Eagle-Vail struck a responsive chord with me.
Since moving into this neighborhood from Vail two years ago, I have encountered a series of conflicts with neighbors who seem to believe that allowing their dogs, and cats, to use my yard and flower beds as a toilet is some form of property right.
When the snow melted early last April I was appalled to discover dozens of piles of dog droppings in my side yard alone. Perhaps I can leave it up to the reader’s imagination to visualize what the front and back yards looked like.
For the most part these are decent, friendly people who care about their children and profess loyalty to the concept of community. But when it comes to taking responsibility for their animals, some residents of Eagle-Vail seem to have a giant blind spot.
Even after five actual teeth baring physical attacks by a
neighbor’s dog – on my own property – I resisted calling Animal Control, out of a naive desire to maintain some degree of cordiality.
But when this individual continued to ignore my expressions of serious concern, and actually insinuated that I was hallucinating the problems with her animal, I was left no other choice than to utilize the only channel available under circumstances of this sort.
That particular dog is no longer a problem, since shortly after she was cited by Animal Control, my neighbor disposed of it.
Now, in warm weather, her cat visits my deck on a nightly basis, leaving her calling cards in the flower beds.
On the other side of my home I have a neighbor with three dogs, each of which is sweet, intelligent and fun to play with.
The neighbor has agreed that picking up after them is a good thing, and he actually follows through from time to time. But with three large animals, from time to time is not often enough, as their piles of droppings attract other similarly inclined canines from throughout the neighborhood.
Like Aggie Chastain’s husband, I will admit that I have not always been the picture of perfect self control when confronting my neighbors with what I find to be fundamentally incomprehensible behavior.
After the discovery of the huge problem last April I again called Animal Control, and was advised by them, and this is the factual truth, to put a sign in my yard. I thanked the individual with whom I spoke and asked him if he knew any literate dogs.
I then called Eagle County Health Department, and spoke to an individual who commiserated with my situation but evaded any responsibility, suggesting that I take the matter to the county commissioners.
I have yet to take that step, thinking the issue too insignificant for such an august body.
But I certainly have considered some form of class action against Animal Control for their utter and complete failure to enforce the ordinance as it is currently written.
Perhaps the Chastains, and any other similarly offended residents of Eagle-Vail, would like to join me?