An influx of property assessment appeals is costing Pitkin County in a big way, and the county assessor isn’t thrilled about the development.
The Colorado Board of Assessment Appeals is preparing to hear 39 appeals and Pitkin County Assessor Tom Isaac described the situation as “gamesmanship.”
The Aspen Daily News covers the situation here.
Isaac said in the past only a few appeals would reach the state level, but now “dozens” get that far. Some appeals are of smaller residential properties, some are huge, such as the Viceroy Hotel at Base Village in Snowmass Village, which wants its value lowered by more than $57 million.
Isaac said that one tactic business owners are employing is appealing to the local board but not showing up for the hearing, thus losing that appeal which then gets appealed further to the state board. That’s what the Viceroy as well as the Aspen Skiing Company’s Little Nell Hotel did this year.
The belief is that chances of successfully lowering a value is more likely at the state level, because the board members who hear the appeals may not be as familiar with properties in a particular county and are more likely to lower it to a compromised amount.
Isaac said dealing with the appeals costs the county about $100,000 in staff time alone in 2011. He said he’ll likely need to hire an attorney to handle the cases going to the state board, and expects that will cost about $50,000. The county attorney who typically works those cases is expected to be on leave this winter.
In all, the county had about 1,200 appeals of 2010 values.
The strategy of punting a local appeal and going straight to the state is interesting, and makes sense, particularly for a corporation that can afford to go to that level and spend the time it takes to put together the appeal and sit through the hearing.
For the owner of a residential property, that strategy isn’t quite as realistic, as appealing to the state often involves hiring an attorney and is a much more lengthy process than a local appeal. But for those who have the time and money, and are not satisfied with the result they get from the county, it might be worth pushing it as far as can be comfortably handled, because there’s probably some truth to the fact that the state wouldn’t know as much about local housing markets and could be more likely to rule favorably on a compromise.
Does anyone out there have any experience appealing to the state level? What was the experience like? Did you get the result you were hoping for?