Vail Valley tax rate decline halved |

Vail Valley tax rate decline halved

Commercial pays more

Commercial property owners will take a 29 percent hit, under Colorado’s tax structure, four times the residential rate of 7.2 percent.

Assuming your business property is worth $500,000, your local property tax increase goes like this:

• For the ambulance district, that’s $108 more per year up and down the length of the Eagle River Valley.

• The school district tax increase is $707 more on a $500,000 commercial property.

• Commercial property owners in the Eagle River Fire Protection District will pay $171 more in property taxes on $500,000.

• In the Gypsum Fire Protection District, commercial property taxes will go up $550 per year.

• All in, a $500,000 Gypsum business will pay around $1,200 more in property taxes.

EAGLE — Your residential property bill has increased, but the tax rate will drop next year, by about half what you might have hoped.

On the other hand, schools and other entities that live by property taxes won’t face the kinds of devastating cuts they had feared.

Here’s why.

Under Colorado’s Gallagher Amendment, residential property taxes are limited to 45 percent of all property tax collections in Colorado. Commercial and every other kind of property covers the other 55 percent.

To keep that equation balanced, residential property tax rates will decline in 2018, explained Eagle County Assessor Mark Chapin.

Basically, state officials thought oil and natural gas prices would increase during the next year. They didn’t. Prices dropped, along with the state revenue linked to those prices. So, state officials reduced their proposed property tax decrease to cover the shortfall, to keep residential property taxes paying 45 percent of the freight in Colorado.

What that means

Initially, Colorado’s property tax administrators estimated that your residential property tax rate would drop 17 percent.

Instead, your property tax rate will decrease by about half that, 9.5 percent.

JoAnn Groff, the state’s property tax administrator, explained that the state’s projections were based on the premise that most counties would see property values increase. In Eagle County, for example, our property values have increased around 14 percent per year the last few years, depending on where your home is located. Those increases come on the heels of declines in value that hit 30 percent or more, depending on the area, in the wake of the Great Recession.

Again, because the state’s oil and gas revenues are less than expected, you’ll still see a reduction in your property rates, but about half what was initially projected.

Pay where you live

Eagle County voters approved four property tax increases that started hitting in March:

• Eagle County Schools.

• Eagle County Ambulance District.

• Eagle River Fire Protection District.

• Gypsum Fire Protection District.

How much your property taxes will increase depends on where your property is, Chapin explained.

Everyone in the Eagle River Valley from East Vail to Dotsero, and from Tennessee Pass to Dowd Junction, pays the tax increases for the schools and the ambulance district, Chapin explained.

The tax increase for the Eagle River Fire Protection District will be paid by property owners from Avon to Wolcott, and from Dowd Junction to Tennessee Pass, and areas north and south inside that district. They’ll also pay the increased school taxes and ambulance district taxes.

The same goes for Gypsum property owners: increased school taxes and ambulance district taxes, along with an increase in the Gypsum Fire District taxes.

Voters gave the school district the green light to borrow $144 million to fund construction projects up and down the valley ($230 million total payoff), as well as another $8 million a year for salaries and other operating expenses.

No matter what happens with the property tax rate, the school district debt and repayment won’t change, said Sandy Mutchler, the school district’s chief operating officer.

Depending on the assessed value, the school district will change its property tax rate to raise the same amount of money, Mutchler explained.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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