Sit down, if you're not already doing so.
Property values have taken a dramatic leap since the last reappraisal period, and could impact tax bills accordingly.
On April 30, the El Paso County Assessor's Office will mail notices of value to property owners showing how much values have changed, based on the reappraisal period of July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2020.
Countywide, values rose nearly across the board, though some categories of property remained flat, said Assessor Steve Schleiker, who's conducting a series of public meetings to explain the changes.
Here's a rundown by category:
• Single-family homes, which include condos, townhomes and manufactured mobile homes — up by 15 to 20 percent.
Vacant and agricultural land
• Vacant residential land — up by 15 to 25 percent. "Developers are buying this land up and trying to build as fast as they can," Schleiker said.
• Vacant commercial — up by 15 to 20 percent.
• Irrigated agricultural land — down 1 percent.
• Dry land — down 3 percent.
• Dry grazing land — No change.
Apartment buildings/multiple family — up 25 to 30 percent.
Distribution warehouses — up 20 to 25 percent.
Storage warehouses — up 20 to 25 percent.
Retail stores — up 15 to 20 percent.
Neighborhood shopping centers — up 7 to 10 percent.
"Sitdown" restaurants — up by 5 percent.
Fast foods — up 5 to 10 percent.
Office buildings — up 15 to 20 percent.
Medical offices — up 15 to 20 percent.
Manufacturing — No change.
Industrial condos — No change.
Taverns, pubs, gyms and theaters — No change.
Hotels and motels — No change.
Not all homes, taverns or commercial property saw those increases. Since the reappraisal is based on actual sales that occurred during the period, the changes will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Schleiker is building a map that will show the increased by area of the county, which should be completed in the next few weeks.
Schleiker said despite the COVID-19 pandemic, sales and values have risen in many categories, notably commercial sales. During the 24-month reappraisal period, the county averaged 33 commercial sales per month.
While the value increases are eye-popping, Schleiker said they're not as high as the 30-percent spikes seen in the last reappraisal period, which ended June 30, 2018.
An increase in value generally forces a property's tax bill to go up, based on mill levies. However, the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights caps the amount of new revenue taxing agencies can receive, forcing them to lower their mill levies or ask voters' permission to keep the extra money.
Mill levies aren't certified to the county for tax bills until December.
But should no mill levies be changed, a $370,000 house that saw an increase in value of 15 percent, to $430,000, would see a $350 per year increase in its tax bill. "But that doesn't take into account districts that will have to lower mill levies [to comply with TABOR]," Schleiker said.
Appeals must be filed by June 1.
Schleiker invited property owners to call him with questions at 719-520-6527.
As a footnote, he said some legislators are discussing converting the homestead exemption for seniors into a tax credit, which he opposes, because many seniors' incomes are so low, they don't file taxes and, therefore, would get no benefit.
The exemption exempts half the first $200,000 in value of a home from property tax. El Paso County has 30,000 seniors who qualify for the exemption.