Your property tax bill in Eagle County isn’t likely to rise 70%, despite soaring property values |

Your property tax bill in Eagle County isn’t likely to rise 70%, despite soaring property values

The Eagle River Fire Protection District capped revenue in 2012

The Eagle River Fire Protection District is holding a May 2 election asking voters for a property tax hike for capital equipment needs. The district is legally restricted in how much revenue it can collect, even as property values rise.
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Eagle County’s rising property values are unlikely to be matched by corresponding property tax hikes.

The Eagle River Fire Protection District, which covers the Eagle River Valley from the top of Tennessee Pass to Wolcott, with the exception of Vail, is asking voters this spring for a property tax increase in the May 2 election. If approved, the increase would raise roughly $2 million per year. The money would be used exclusively for equipment and maintenance, including facility maintenance.

District Chief Karl Bauer said despite an average 70% increase in assessed value expected this year in the county, that increase can’t be tapped.

Bauer said that a ballot issue in 2012 — known as 5A — had a “cap and ratchet” effect. The language of that ballot issue said that beginning in 2013, the district could collect property tax equal to 2010 revenue, plus growth and inflation.

The ballot language states that as assessed value increases, the district won’t see a corresponding increase in revenue.

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Bauer noted that the 2012 ballot issue was passed after the worst of the local and national economic downturn that hit the valley in 2009. The effect of that downturn was a dramatic drop in property values.

“We realized there would be a rebound in values,” Bauer said. “We wanted to be fiscally responsible.”

Bauer said the ballot language has had its intended effect. Now, though, “We’re in a position where we need to take care of capital needs.”

Bauer said if voters approve the May ballot issue, the caps imposed by the 2012 ballot issue will remain in effect.

The Eagle County School District takes the biggest share of property tax dollars in the Eagle River Valley portion of the county.

Michelle Stecher is the president of the Eagle County School District Board of Education. Stecher said “no” when asked if taxpayers will see a large increase from the district.

Sandy Farrell, the district’s chief operations officer, wrote in an email that “total funding for school districts is set by the Colorado Legislature by the School Finance Act.”

That legislation’s formula adjusts every year. State law caps local mill levies in a formula that includes property taxes, specific ownership taxes and state equalization funds, which cover shortfalls in local revenue.

While property taxpayers will shoulder a larger share of the funding burden, Farrell wrote that the state formula’s total funding for the district is $71.6 million for this year. That total is expected to be similar in 2024.

Based on previous approved ballot measures, the district will have to drop its mill levy — the property tax rate — to generate the same amount of revenue.

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