Letter to the Editor: Understanding the assessor’s office

Dear Editor:
An article written by the Rio Blanco Herald Times regarding the survey the county performed stated that only 50 percent of the public was “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the Rio Blanco County Assessor’s Office.
We requested a copy of the survey results, and what wasn’t reported was that 40 percent of those residents who responded to the survey were neutral about the assessor’s office and that only 10 percent were dissatisfied.
We believe some residents/taxpayers may not understand or be knowledgeable about assessor responsibilities; therefore, we are writing a brief summary of our duties.
As stated in the Colorado Revised Statutes, the assessor’s office discovers, lists and values all real and personal property within the boundaries of our county. Discovery and listing includes, but is not limited to, the tracking, transferring, and mapping of all real property, severed mineral interests, oil and gas production, gravel production, pipelines, gas plants, etc.
We work hard to ensure we have correct and current owners. Keeping our ownership records and maps up to date is essential to all government agencies, property owners and the public.
In valuing real property, our licensed appraisers work together using qualified sales to set values of real property. Reappraisal years are every other year, on odd-numbered years. If no changes have been made to a property on an even-numbered year, the value will remain the same. The laws and guidelines used to set values are by Colorado law and from the Colorado Division of Property Taxation. Appraisers use the three approaches to value (cost, market and income) for all types of real property, except residential, which, by law, is valued solely by the market approach to value.
The value of oil, gas, gravel, coal and nahcolite production are valued yearly according to their prior-year production. Personal property equipment, including oil and gas equipment, is valued yearly.
All property types and values are audited yearly by an auditor approved by the State of Colorado.
As found in CRS 39-5-128-1, the assessor certifies the taxable value to the taxing entities each year by Aug. 25. The taxing entities (example: Parks and Rec. districts) determine the amount of revenue needed to operate, then, using a formula that includes the certified values set by the assessor’s office, the taxing entities determine the mill levy they need.
The only involvement the assessor’s office has in this process is to provide the taxable value to each entity.
In December, per CRS 39-1-111(5), the assessor’s office sends a recertification of values for any unforeseen events that may have occurred since the previous certification, for example a property destroyed by fire. The county commissioners then approve the mill levies submitted by the taxing entities.
At that time, the information is given to the assessor’s office, whereby the tax roll is generated and a certified tax roll is given to the county treasurer. The treasurer’s staff then processes and mails a tax bill to all property owners.
The assessor’s office continuously strives to improve our customer service and the resources that we have available to the public. We welcome any suggestions and questions to help better serve the residents of Rio Blanco County.
Thank you for taking the time to read this brief message concerning the duties of the Rio Blanco County Assessor’s office.
Rio Blanco County
Assessor’s Office Staff