West End Village townhomes could see valuations increase

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— Six townhomes in West End Village could see their property valuations increase if the Routt County Board of Commissioners signs off on a fix to an appraisal error.

Acting as the Board of Equalization, the commissioners Tuesday will hear a valuation correction for the six deed-restricted units. The townhomes can only be purchased by those making 60 percent of the area median income or less and are assessed below market value because of the deed restrictions. For 2013, 60 percent of AMI for a family of four is $47,520.

The units currently are valued between $45,930 and $56,900 and would increase to between $105,000 and $135,000 if the correction is approved.

Routt County Assessor Gary Peterson said Monday that the error stems from a 2009 reassessment when a model was created to evaluate condos or townhomes that have just two or three units.

“It was an error in a formula,” Peterson said.

“Each year we have to recalibrate our mass appraisal formula," he said. “We didn’t know (the error) was there. It was discounting the properties by 76 percent.”

Peterson said the original valuation for the properties also was artificially low because it took into account only the cost of materials and excluded labor.

“That was appropriate for our office to set the values at that,” he said. “It should have been readjusted.”

The value correction would scale back the 76 percent discount to a 40 percent discount relative to market units.

A 1,302-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath unit currently valued at $45,930 would change to $105,990 if the correction is approved.

Peterson estimated the tax bill for that unit would be about $152 before the correction, using last year’s mill levy rates, and would increase to about $350 if approved.

That would be an increase of about $16.50 per month.

If the commissioners approve the correction, the owners of the units could appeal the Board of Equalization's decision.

There are three venues when appealing a Board of Equalization decision: the state Board of Assessment Appeals, district court or arbitration. An appeal would need to be filed within 30 days of the decision being mailed.

Currently, Storm Mountain Ranch homeowners are contesting the classifications and valuations of their parcels, which previously were taxed at lower ag rates, with the state Board of Assessment Appeals. A decision on either issue will not be issued until after the hearing on valuations, which is scheduled for September.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

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