County assessor expecting a lot of protests on assessments

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By AJ Vicens

Jefferson County Assessor Jim Everson expects more than 20,000 protests to flood his office when property owners get valuation notices May 1.

Everson fears Jeffco residents won’t like the disconnect between actual property values now in the weak economy and the valuations based on sales data for June 2008.

"Every assessor in the state is having the same problem," Everson said in his second-floor office April 16. "People are going to feel there's a disconnect. Most people think in current terms."

State law mandates the January 2010 tax bill be based on the property's value on June 30, 2008. Since then, property values have decreased in most areas of Jefferson County, including South Jeffco, Evergreen and Conifer.

According to data compiled by Everson's office, the median home value in South Jeffco for 2009 is $276,715. The median home value decline in South Jeffco between 2007 and 2009 is 1.5 percent. In Evergreen, the median home price is $410,660, with very little decrease in value over the last two years. In Conifer, the median home price is $320,865, with a drop since 2007 of about 0.5 percent.

These three areas held their value considerably better than areas in the northern part of the county, according to Everson's data. The median home price in Arvada dropped by 6 percent in the last two years, and by 5.8 percent in Wheat Ridge.

When all areas of the county are factored in, the median home value decrease was 3.8 percent over the last two years.

Everson said it's important for people to take a close look at their property's assessed value and make sure it looks right.

"Take a close look at it, but make sure you look at it in the right sense," Everson said, stressing that the values are based on June 2008 numbers. The assessor's office will put all of its data online May 1 so property owners can look at their neighborhoods to determine if the numbers seem right.

"We want to get it right," Everson said. "I really don't want people out there thinking they're getting beaten up."

Protests must be filed by June 1. Protests can be filed online, by fax or in person at the assessor’s office on the second floor of the Jefferson County Courts and Administration Building.

Everson also warns seniors and the disabled that they could lose their property tax exemption on the 2010 tax bill. The state is considering eliminating the tax credit to help deal with massive budget shortfalls, a move that would affect 24,522 properties in Jefferson County.

Everson said this is his fourth valuation in the Jeffco assessor's office, and it's the "toughest one I've been through. There are so many market factors to sort out. But I think we got a pretty good view on it with all the work we put in."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.colubminecourier.com for updates and breaking news.

To evaluate your property's assessed value, go to the assessor's home page at http://assessor.jeffco.us. Select the property records search button. Enter the schedule number provided on the valuation notice, and select the neighborhood sales button. A list will come up with houses similar in size and style to yours, and how much they sold for around June 30, 2008. If your assessed value is considerably higher than those numbers, contact the assessors office. Call (303) 271-8600.