Property tax bills were mailed January 30 to Garfield County residents

January 27, 2012 (updated February 8, 2012)

Property tax season is already here, just ahead of income tax season. January 30 about 30,000 property tax bills were mailed to Garfield County property owners.

Garfield County has $164,362,239.64 in taxes certified to be collected through this tax cycle, according to Garfield County Treasurer Georgia Chamberlain. That is up $11,401,244 from last year’s total. The difference is due to an increase in percentage of the county’s total valuation of oil and gas activities of 12.6 percent. Meanwhile, valuations in all other sectors decreased, including residential properties, vacant land, commercial, industrial and agricultural properties and public utilities. More information on property valuations for 2011 is available in the Garfield County Assessor’s 2011 Abstract of Assessment and Tax Levies, released in January 2012.

Deadlines for tax payments are approaching. For those who pay their property taxes in two payments, the first half is due February 29 and the second half June 15. For those who pay in a lump sum, full payment is due April 30, 2012.

“If you don’t receive a tax notice in the mail in the next couple of weeks, please contact our office, because you still have to meet the deadlines for payment,” says Chamberlain. “And, if your taxes are paid by a mortgage company, you do not need to pay the bill additionally.” It is a good practice to verify that your mortgage company receives and pays the bill from your escrow account.

Payments can be made online through the Garfield County website at this link: Explanations on the process are on this page as well. The treasurer’s office also accepts payments in the office at 109 8th Street, Glenwood Springs, in the Garfield County Courthouse building, Monday through Friday from 8:30 am until 5 pm, or in Rifle at 144 East 3rd Street, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 am until 5 pm. Property taxes may also be paid through telephone credit card payments at 1-866-539-2020, or payments by mail to PO Box 1069, Glenwood Springs, CO 81602.

For tax payment questions; contact the Treasurer’s Office 970-945-6382. For property or valuation questions; contact the Assessor’s Office 970-945-9134. Senior citizens with tax questions or requesting deferrals should contact the treasurer’s office to complete this process.

Frequently asked questions

Presented by 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 this was a major benefit for tax districts located in these areas, because, while most every class of property (residential, commercial, vacant land, etc.) declined in value, conversely, 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, 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 72% of the assessed value is attributable to oil and gas operations alone, so 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, such as 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 the “property,” which is oil and gas.

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 2012.