Minturn may experience a boom in property taxes |

Minturn may experience a boom in property taxes

J.K. Perry

MINTURN – Minturn is in for a windfall if it annexes and approves development of a private ski resort south of town, and some residents hope that will mean lower property taxes.The development of 1,700 homes on and around Battle Mountain is expected to generate between $4.5 and $4.8 million in property tax revenues annually. The town budgeted for just $310,000 in property taxes this year.During a June 15 meeting, Minturn residents asked Ginn Co. representatives whether the development might result in increased property values. The representatives denied any control over real estate values, saying the Minturn Town Council has the power to lower the property tax rate, known as a “mill levy” in government jargon.Minturn’s property tax rate is close to 18 percent, the second highest among incorporated towns in Eagle County. Red Cliff is the highest at nearly 49 percent.Decrease obligatoryCouncilors Bill Burnett and Kelly Brinkerhoff say they favor lowering the tax rate if annexation and development is approved and the town benefits financially. Mayor Gordon “Hawkeye” Flaherty and Jerry Bumgarner refused to comment for this story – citing they’d been advised not to do so by the town’s legal staff – while the other council members failed to return phone messages left for them.”It’s an immediate need,” Brinkerhoff said. “Property value is going up, but I have the feeling the property taxes are (getting) higher. I fear the locals will have to move somewhere else.”Burnett said he favors decreased property taxes but said the move is unlikely because the town likely will want to hold onto the revenue generated by the current tax. Even so, the money coming from the Ginn development is 10 to 12 years away, Burnett said.The town is constitutionally obligated to lower property taxes per budgetary needs if the town benefits from the development, resident Harry Gray said.”There’s no reason to think the mill levy is going to stay the same,” Gray said. “If you’ve got a jillion homes up there, then you would think taxes would go down.”Pipe dreamProperty values in Minturn and countywide continue to increase. The more valuable a property, the higher the property tax. “When you’re nestled between Vail and Beaver Creek, it’s hard to say (value) is not going to increase because the amount of property for development is relatively small,” resident Fred Haslee said.To combat increased property values, the Town Council should lower the mill levy, resident Darell Wegert said. Still, the town should wait to consider a decrease until the project is approved or denied, Wegert said.”Right now it’s just premature to do anything,” he said. “Until it gets annexed it’s just a pipe dream.”Commercial clamsSeveral factors go into determining a mill levy. High property values and sales tax revenue often result in lower mill levies.Vail has the highest average property valuation of incorporated towns in the county and has a mill levy of 4.7 percent. The town also collected more than $16 million in sales tax last year. Sales tax revenue is expected to increase in Minturn from $430,000 this year to more than $1.2 million when the development is finished, according to Ginn Co. figures.Sales from construction traffic at restaurants, bars and convenience stores, as well as commercial businesses within the gated community, should generate additional sales tax revenue, Gray said.Still, sales tax won’t sustain Minturn, Haslee said.”We have great restaurants – some of the best in the valley – but that’s not going to carry the town,” he said. “Property tax is carrying the town. Until we develop or encourage businesses to come in town and create foot traffic for those businesses, the only time you’re going to see foot traffic in Minturn is on Saturday morning during the market.”Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or, Colorado

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