It is property tax season, and notices are in the mail

January 31, 2013

As property tax season comes around in the early spring, the ability for residents to pay in two installments may make the tax burden a little easier. Deadlines for 2013 taxes are February 28 and June 17 for half payments, or April 30 for full payments.

Garfield County has sent about 30,000 property tax bills to local property owners.

Garfield County has $169,455,617 in taxes certified to be collected through this tax cycle, according to Garfield County Treasurer Georgia Chamberlain. That is up $5,093,380 from last year’s total. The difference is due to an increase of 4.25% in the county’s total valuation. More information on property valuations for 2012 is available in the Garfield County Assessor’s 2012 Abstract of Assessment and Tax Levies, released in January 2013.

The legislature funded the senior homestead exemption for the tax year 2012. The exemption appears on the tax notice as a reduction of the total amount of taxes due. Qualifying seniors must have owned and lived in their homes since January 1, 2002, have attained the age of 65 by January 1, 2012, and have filed an application for the exemption with the Assessor’s Office by July 15, 2012.

This year the Garfield County Treasurer’s Office is implementing a new online payment system, which will integrate with the online property database on the county’s website. While the payment system is still in the last weeks of development, property owners may pay by cash or checks at the Garfield County Treasurer’s Offices, in the Garfield County Courthouse at 109 8th Street, Suite 204, Glenwood Springs, or at 144 East 3rd Street, in Rifle. Residents may also mail their bills to PO Box 1069, Glenwood Springs, CO 81602.

“We are striving to complete the final stages of integrating an extensive payment portal system,” said Garfield County Treasurer Georgia Chamberlain. “The system we chose has the highest tier level of security protection in the payment industry, and is continuously audited for ongoing security measures. It will allow our citizens the capability to see the immediate posting of payments on their accounts when making tax payments online.” The portal integration will be complete before the February 28 first half payment tax deadline, and will allow residents to make payments by credit card or echeck online as well as when paying in person at the offices.

If you don’t receive a tax notice in the mail in the next couple of weeks, please contact the Garfield County Treasurer’s Office. It is also a good practice to verify that mortgage companies receive and pay the bill from the escrow accounts associated with properties.

For tax payment questions; contact the Garfield County Treasurer’s Office 970-945-6382. Senior citizens requesting deferrals should contact the Treasurer’s Office to complete this process.

For property or valuation questions; contact the Garfield County Assessor’s Office 970-945-9134.

Frequently asked questions

Presented by Garfield County Assessor Jim Yellico

What accounts for the difference in the amounts certified to be collected this year?

Each tax district, (schools, fire departments, water districts, hospitals, etc.) sets a yearly budget which determines how much money it needs to collect from property taxes. Because of TABOR legislation, a district’s budget must not increase by more than 5.5%, and at the same time, its mill levy cannot increase without voter approval. In the cases of the RE-1 School District and the Carbondale Fire Department, the voters approved the requested mill levy increases.

How does this relate to changes in assessed value in other classifications — ie; residential, vacant land, etc.?

The classification of property for assessment purposes is unrelated to the certification of mill levies. However, the geographic location of the Oil and Gas classification is primarily in the western part of Garfield County – from New Castle to Parachute, to the Utah border. For tax year 2011 and 2012 this was a major benefit for tax districts located in these areas, because oil and gas saw an increase. The valuation increase for the oil and gas classification more than made up for the valuation decrease in the other classifications over the same 2-year period, so those districts were more easily able to collect the revenue needed to operate.

What might this mean for the County tax base?

The increase in percentage of the Garfield County tax base being solely derived from oil and gas is a cause for concern – or at least thoughtful planning. Now that 73% of the assessed value is attributable to oil and gas operations alone, tax districts that derive their revenue from the tax base will be more affected by changes – positive or negative – to the value of this classification. Unlike traditional properties (homes, commercial buildings, or vacant land), natural gas and other produced minerals are commodities, susceptible to large fluctuations in price. The price is a major part of the equation when determining the value of an oil and gas property.

Are there any other trends in levies and revenue in the Abstract of Assessment that might be interesting items to monitor?

Looking ahead to our next reappraisal, tax year 2013, we will most likely see decreases in property values similar to the scale experienced in tax year 2011. Oil and gas operations are valued on an annual basis, so it will be interesting to see what happens in tax year 2013.