Second-home owners pay 60 percent of Eagle County’s residential property taxes
November 5, 2016
EAGLE COUNTY — Out-of-county property owners pay 60 percent of Eagle County's residential property taxes.
It breaks out like this:
• $83,767,916: Second-homeowner residential property taxes.
• $50,593,956: In-county residential property taxes.
That means if voters approve another property tax increase — this time for local schools — then second-homeowners will pay 60 percent of the residential tab. But unless those second homeowners are registered to vote in Eagle County, they can't vote on local tax proposals.
But that's not the bulk of it
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However, because of Colorado's convoluted tax structure, commercial property is taxed at three times the rate of residential property, and much of that commercial property is locally owned, said local business owner Alex Young.
"I don't think that many people know this and know how this affects business around the valley," Young said in a letter to the Vail Daily.
The school district is asking for a pair of property tax increases. Those would be joining three other tax increases voters approved in May that kick in beginning in 2017: two fire district tax increases and the ambulance district.
The school district's tax questions ask for:
• Permission to borrow $144 million to build and renovate buildings and facilities — with interest it carries a $230 million total price tag. The school board created a point system to keep as much of that money local as possible.
• Increase operating revenue by $8 million a year; none of that $8 million goes to the school district's central administration staff.
When the recession hit, the school district's state funding was slashed $14 million throughout a two year time period. The district shed 90 jobs. The school district's deferred maintenance list now tops $12 million, according to an independent facilities study.
"We're been talking about these cuts for way too long. As a community it's time to do something about it, instead of talking about it, " said Wendy Rimel, board president of the Education Foundation of Eagle County.
Colorado's 2017 preliminary state budget, unveiled Wednesday, indicates public school funding could be reduced again.
"Help will not come from the state. We have to take care of our own schools," Rimel said.
Young views taxes through a business lens.
"When people campaign to increase taxes they should be clear and transparent about not only how the taxes are going to affect residents, but also how they are going to affect commercial property. No one ever mentions the tax rates for commercial property when they are campaigning," Young said.
Three taxes already approved
Eagle County is home to 107 taxing entities, including things, such as cemeteries and library districts. You pay property taxes for the districts in your neighborhood, and a couple countywide.
In May, voters approved property tax increases for three of them: the countywide ambulance district, the Eagle River Fire Protection District covering Edwards and Avon, and the Gypsum Fire Department.
Eagle County Health Service District — the ambulance district — faced a $1.8 million annual operating deficit because, under Obamacare, the federal government pays 7 cents for every dollar it costs the local ambulance district to transport a Medicaid patient. Changes in Medicaid enrollment pushed up the number of Medicaid patients the district transports by 300 percent, according to district data.
The Gypsum Fire Department took three shots at its tax increase before voters in that town finally approved it in May.
If you live in Gypsum in a home worth $300,000, then your property taxes are going up $90.55 a year, according to calculations by Eagle County Assessor Mark Chapin.
If your Gypsum business is worth $300,000, then your property taxes are going up $329.90.
The bite isn't as hard with the Eagle River Fire Protection District's 14.38 percent increase. Voters approved $25 million over 30 years, $47.31 a year or $3.94 a month for a $500,000 residence, or $141.93 a year for a $500,000 commercial property.
How property taxes work
Under Colorado's Gallagher Amendment, residential property is taxed at 7.96 percent of your market value, commercial property at 29 percent of your market value.
If your house's market value is $500,000, you multiply that by 7.96 percent to get your assessed value, in your case $39,800.
If you have a $500,000 commercial or vacant property, you multiply that 29 percent and your assessed value is $145,000.
Eagle County has 107 taxing districts. How many take a bite of your tax bill depends on where you live.
Take your assessed value and multiply it by the tax rate or mill levy in your neighborhood.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and email@example.com.