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More skip paying Eagle County property taxes

Sarah Mausolf
smausolf@vaildaily.com
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Although Eagle County has collected a majority of its property tax revenue for 2008, the number of properties that didn’t pay has almost tripled compared with last year, county chief deputy treasurer Mari Renzelman said.

Some 880 properties owe delinquent property taxes, compared with 316 properties this time last year, she said.

“I think it’s the economy. People just don’t have the money to pay,” she said.



“A lot of those are possibly accounts that are in foreclosures, so if they’re not paying their mortgage, they’re not paying their taxes either. Some are developers: They wait for properties to sell before they pay their taxes and they’re not selling.”

Still, the county has collected about 96 percent of the property taxes due for 2008, Renzelman said.



Property owners still owe about $5.5 million, she said. It’s hard to say how that figure compares with last year because the county doesn’t keep track of the dollar amount of property tax revenue that was delinquent in past years, she said.

Funds from those property taxes flow to a number of taxing entities, including the Eagle County School District, towns, area metro districts and the libraries, Renzelman said.

Recreation, fire and water districts also receive property taxes, she said.



Some of the taxing entities in the county were out 50 to 60 percent of their property taxes as of the end of August, she said. A few examples include the Buckhorn Valley and Valagua metro districts, she said.

Property taxes for 2008 were due in a lump sum April 30 or in two installments Feb. 28 and June 15, Renzelman said.

The county expects to recover its delinquent property taxes in a tax lien sale in November, she said. With tax lien sales, investors can buy up those property taxes, and charge property owners up to 10 percent interest on them, she said.

County officials expect its biggest tax sale in its history this year in terms of the number of properties with taxes up for grabs, Renzelman said.

Bottom line: When taxes are delinquent, taxing entities face a delay of several months before they get their money. Instead of receiving the total amount of property tax revenue in June or July, they won’t get the delinquent tax revenue until Dec. 10, Renzelman said.

The Eagle County School District is out about $2 million, or about 4 percent of the property taxes it was supposed to receive this past summer, district Chief Financial Officer Phil Onofrio said.

Because of when the district’s fiscal year ends – it ended June 30 for 2008-09 – the district was left with a property tax revenue shortfall for last school year, he said.

To cover the gap in property tax revenue for 2008-09, school officials dipped into a reserve fund, Onofrio said. The amount of money in the reserve fund dropped from $16 to $14 million, he said.

If the trend continues in future years, Onofrio said the district may need to cut its expenses to reflect an expected shortfall in delinquent property tax revenue.

“It means we’ll have to be more careful in our spending,” Onofrio said. “We’ll have to adjust our spending in the future.”

Property taxes flow into the district’s general fund, which pays for things like teacher salaries and school supplies, he said.

Ken Marchetti, a financial advisor for a majority of the metro districts in the valley, said the delay in property tax revenue shouldn’t have a big effect on most metro districts because debt service payments aren’t due until December.

“There is a delay on when the metro districts get their money but that’s the only impact,” he said. “We try to plan for things like that so we schedule a lot of the metro district payments late in the year, especially the debt payments so we have time for this tax lien sale.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.


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