In coming days, La Plata County residents should receive by mail new property values for their home and land.
Every two years, the La Plata County Assessor’s Office issues a new assessed value on lands and homes in the county. Carrie Woodson, the county assessor, said the new valuations were mailed Wednesday.
Countywide, the median change on valuations was a 5% increase for both land and “improvements,” a term for the structures, such as homes, on a property.
“It’s a very moderate change,” Woodson said.
There are a few outliers, Woodson said. In the Dove Ranch subdivision near Bayfield, land valuations went up as high as 50%. But, she said, the neighborhood had a prolonged period when values were really low and the market was stagnant. Now, homes are selling.
At the other end of the spectrum, land in parts of the county, such as Ignacio and the Dryside, decreased as much as 10%.
“On the Dryside, those 40-acre tracts are still selling really, really cheap,” she said.
For the improvement portion of evaluations, while the median change was about a 5% increase, there were extenuating circumstances. Some homes in the Animas Valley went up about 30%, Woodson said, while homes around Ignacio went down as much as 25% .
“But most people are in that 5% range, give or take,” she said.
Newly assessed valuations are based on home and property sales from July, 1 2016, to June 30, 2018 – a statewide, statutory requirement.
In La Plata County, there were 2,560 “arms-length” home sales during that time period – sales where the buyer and seller didn’t know each other and the home was listed on the open market. There were also 574 vacant land sales, Woodson said.
Fire and floodsWoodson said the Assessor’s Office has been monitoring to see if the 416 Fire and the subsequent flooding danger that now exists for homes below the burn scar has had any effect on property values.
“The sales, so far, indicate there’s been no negative impact to values from the 416 Fire,” she said.
Ag landsDuring the last change in property evaluations in 2017, agricultural lands saw one of the sharpest increases in county history.
This time around, Woodson said there was a slight decrease on values for farms with irrigated land, and a slight increase on lands with dry grazing.
The value of properties classified for agricultural use are based on what the land can produce, derived from a 10-year statewide average for commodity prices and expenses.
Oil and gasThe exact numbers aren’t yet in, but Woodson said valuations for oil and gas properties are expected to continue to decline based on the current low price of natural gas. The county has seen a decrease in oil and gas for the past decade.
ProtestIf a property owner doesn’t agree with the valuation by the Assessor’s Office, they have the right to file a protest within the next 30 days, Woodson said. Protests may be made on the Assessor’s website, by mail or by going into the Assessor’s Office.
During the last round of evaluations in 2017, a total of 786 people filed protests. Of that number, 293 valuations were adjusted, almost a 40% rate, Woodson said.
“I’d say we’re pretty fair,” she said. “People think, ‘Why bother?’ But that’s not true at all. If it’s incorrect, we want to correct it.”
TaxesTaxes aren’t set in stone just yet, Woodson said.
Property taxes are a combination of the property value, the assessment ratio set by the state and the mill levy in any given area.
Woodson said the state is estimating the assessment ratio to decrease slightly this year. And mill levies aren’t finalized until the end of the year.
“That’s why we can’t quote taxes,” she said, “we can only estimate.”