Vail Valley tax decisions still months away | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley tax decisions still months away

Chris Outcalt
coutcalt@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado ” It’s still early in the year for the special districts in the Vail Valley and Eagle County to decide whether to adjust their property tax rates, but many boards and district officials plan to start talking about it soon.

The deadline for the county assessor to send assessed values to each taxing district is Aug. 25. By then, most property valuation appeals will have been finalized and the assessor’s office can get the districts more accurate numbers to use in their budget process, said County Assessor Mark Chapin.

June 1 is the deadline for residents to appeal the property valuations ” which were done by the county between Jan. 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008 and mailed at the beginning of the month.

Countywide, the average increase in property value was 13 percent. The valuations will be used to calculate property tax bills in 2009 and 2010.

In addition to paying property taxes to the county, tens of other special districts have their own mill levies that, depending on where a piece of property is located, may show up on a tax bill.

“It’s something we’ll probably discuss,” said Fred Morrison, district manager of the Eagle County Health Services District, of lowering the mill levy.

The health services district provides paramedic and ambulance services to the eastern part of the county.

“Certainly it’s on people’s minds and we’re aware of that,” Morrison said. “We’re not exactly sure what we’re going to do.”

The district will start to get a better idea of how its budget looks during the next few months, he said.

Michael Brown, president of the Eagle Valley Library District board, doesn’t think the district will lower its mill levy, but said the spike in valuations in the county is a good reason to make sure any new expenditures are well thought out and justified.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of lowering our mill levy,” Brown said. “I think it’s more a matter of hearing the public loud and clear ” this is what you have to live on, I think we need to respect that.”

The Western Eagle County Ambulance District won’t even start it’s budget process until it gets the assessor’s numbers on Aug. 25, said Chris Montera, chief of the district.

“It’s still too early,” Montera said. “Especially when people are going to be disputing (their valuations).”

More than 1,300 appeals have been filed with the assessor’s office, which is comparable to the same time in 2007 ” the last reassessment year. Typically about 15 percent of the 40,000 taxable properties in the county are appealed.

Jon Asper, chief of the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, said the district has plenty of work to do with the money it gets from its current mill levy.

“It’s hard to get these mills. If I lowered it and everything goes back up ” it’s hard to get back,” Asper said. “We’re OK, but we’re not real flush. We watch what we do and buy as best we can.”

In Eagle-Vail, metro district officials plan to start having preliminary discussions about whether to change the mill levy soon.

“It’s on our minds and we’re starting to pay attention to it,” said John Nichols, chairman of the metro district. “We need to take a look at how this next year’s revenue will compare to what our projected needs are.”

Districts have until Dec. 15 to finalize their mill levies.

Residents interested in challenging their property value determined by the county should contact the county assessor’s office at 970-328-8640 or visit http://www.eaglecounty.us. June 1 is the last day to appeal an appraisal.

Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or coutcalt@vaildaily.com.