Letter: Financial comments on upcoming 2024 Eagle County Property Taxes
The startling news that residential property valuations may go up by an average of 70% for tax year 2023 caused me to take a look at Eagle County finances, and I came up with surpluses of $22.3 million, $19.1 million and $22.1 million respectively for the tax years 2019-2021, according to Eagle County Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports. These surpluses represent 85.1%, 66.7% and 76.8% of Eagle County property taxes. Another way of expressing these figures is to say that in 2019, the County only spent 14.9% of taxes collected, 33.3% of taxes collected in 2020 and 23.2% of taxes collected in 2021 respectively.
According to that same report, restricted and unrestricted cash on the County’s balance sheet has grown from $139.5 million in 2019 to $190.5 million in 2021. Current cash equals 1.61 times 2021 expenses. So, if no taxes are collected in 2024, the county could run itself off of reserves for at least a year and a half. Note: this statement applies only to County operations and does not apply to other taxing authorities like the school district, fire protection, individual metro districts etc.
With the projected 70% increase in market price valuations, I would suggest cutting the county’s current mill levy of 8.499 per a thousand valuation and the proposed percentage applied to market valuation of 6.765% even further. An additional solution is a variable property tax credit which could total between 25-50% of the average three-year surplus ($21.1 million) and be applied as a credit to reduce the upcoming 2024 property tax bill.
It would also help to find something to spend the surplus on such as affordable workforce housing. If the people who keep this valley functioning can’t afford to live here, then the valley will cease to function as well as it has up to this point.