Richard Carnes: Reappraising the reappraisals in Vail Valley |

Richard Carnes: Reappraising the reappraisals in Vail Valley

The positive merits of water-boarding were the topic of conversation last week when locals opened their property tax valuation notices.

I happened to be at a bar in Edwards when I first heard the happy little notices had appeared. Sheer coincidence, I assure you, but honestly appropriate once local property owners began voicing their opinions between sips (or shots, depending on one’s property percentage increase) about their respective new valuation numbers.

I quietly sipped a brew and listened, not having checked the mail in a week or so, my apprehension building faster than local unemployment filings.

“How in hell could so many people’s properties go up so high, so fast?” I asked no one in particular, hoping all would ignore my improper English but at least one or two would offer up a bar-worthy answer.

“Here, take a look at this little nugget,” offered an older gentleman with a beer in one hand and slip of paper in the other, which he was busy waving in front of my face.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

The high-gloss, half-sheet of paper was a colorfully confusing chart entitled “Notice of Valuation Important Information,” which immediately made me feel a better about my English, but momentarily confused me a tad about how this whole valuation business occurs.

While applauding Chapin and his crew at the county for trying to “head ’em off at the pass,” long-winded columns and multi-colored charts like that one could have been avoided with the simple phrase: “Next year we tax what your property was worth last year, not this year. Capiche?”

Makes sense to me.

As the entire bar continued debating how, for the first time apparently, taxable values seem to be in line with actual market values, I slipped over to the post office to see if I should switch from beer to rum.

As luck would have it, my house actually went down a fraction, but an empty lot we own right next door skyrocketed over 26 percent, and now has more than doubled in three short years.

Listen, if someone wants to fork over $500,000 for half an acre in Homestead, give me a call. I also have a great pair of tickets to last year’s Bronco playoff game if you’re interested.

Anyway, this issue could have been avoided had the previous dynamic trio of Eagle County commissioners had the nerve to lower the mill levy, but alas, their fear of not being able to re-raise the mill levy in the future outweighed their commitment to those who elected them.


The entire fiasco can be summed up by a direct quote from one of the intellectually stimulating, government-inspired, latest and greatest Eagle County Three Amigos, Jon Stavney: “It’s painful because it probably doesn’t reflect today’s market.”

Woah, dude. Ya think?

I do believe it is probably time for rum.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at

Support Local Journalism