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Real estate rebounding after Great Recession

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By John Colson

Sopris Sun Correspondent

Property values in Carbondale rose dramatically this year, on average 23 percent, according to Garfield County Assessor Jim Yellico, a development that is taken as yet another sign that Colorado and the Roaring Fork Valley are pulling out of the economic slump caused by the recent Great Recession of 2008-2010.

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Yellico was careful to stress in a recent interview that the valuation numbers are preliminary and may change due to several factors in the coming months.

These factors can be a result of protests filed by property owners, which would trigger an examination of the rationale for the change in value of the affected property as indicated on the notice, or as a result of errors discovered in the calculations made by the assessor’s office.

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The assessor’s office recently sent notices of assessed valuation to property owners in Garfield County, for property classified as residential, commercial or vacant land.

Yellico noted that, although the average increase in value is approximately 23 percent for Carbondale properties, some notices may reflect changes that are either well above that figure or below it.

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Yellico declined to give out the actual dollar value of the current assessment cycle, referring a reporter to the assessor’s office website for the most recent dollar value of property in Carbondale.

According to the assessor’s office website, which is linked to the Garfield County website (www.garfield-county.com), the 2014 abstract of property values within the county recorded Carbondale’s total valuation as $100,797,120, a figure that determines how much a government or taxing district can take in depending on its tax rate.

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The 2014 valuation was down considerably from the town’s assessed valuation of $175,778,170 in 2009. That year’s numbers, due to the state-mandated, two-year cycle of assessments, reflected property values from two years earlier, just before the beginning of the Great Recession.

For the town government, however, the increase in property values will have only a minor impact in terms of affecting the town’s budget or providing relief from the town’s chronic budgetary constraints.

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“It’s not a windfall for us, but it’s a help,” said Town Manager Jay Harrington about the rise in property values. “Everything is, with our financial challenges.”

He commented, however, that the valuation increase will help special districts in the area, such as schools and fire districts (see related story).

This year, Carbondale’s budget was approximately $6.3 million in the general fund, which accounts for most town operations, and about $15 million overall when all funds are taken into account.

The town’s revenues come mostly from sales taxes, with property tax collections making up 3.2 percent of the town’s overall annual income (in 2014), according to Finance Director Renae Gustine.

According to budget documents available for review on the town’s website (www.carbondalegov.org), the town has a total mill levy of 3.594 mills (a “mill” is equivalent in value to one-tenth of one cent, as applied to the assessed value of a home of other property).

Carbondale’s mill levy, according to the town’s website constitutes “approximately 6 percent of the average citizen’s property tax bill.”

Published in The Sopris Sun on May 14, 2015.
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