This year's property valuations just came from the Larimer County Assessor, and they remind me of last year problems. 2005 assessments brought 15,000 protests from Larimer County property owners, more than any other county in Colorado (second was Adams County with 9,000 protests). Much of the problem lies with the assessor's management of the system.
Property assessments need to be fair and accurate – fair not only to those properties that are overvalued, but also to Larimer County and the public schools when some property is undervalued. After all, this is the method for funding our schools, our human services and our basic services to county residents.
Several problems seem obvious. The computer model may be accurate and useful for the majority of valuations, but it should flag every valuation that goes radically up or down so that a human can look at the changed valuation to see if it is reasonable.
There should also be a system to put each property at a new benchmark when a protest establishes that a particular house is higher or lower in value than the system said.
Other Colorado cities have a section on their county Web site to easily find comparables and print the form that is required for a protest. To make that easy through the county Web site would save many staff hours spent with angry protestors – time the staff could spend in the field doing in-person appraisals.
Comparable information should be fairly easy for the properties in town – let's free up our county appraisers to concentrate on the more unique properties that make up so much of Larimer county.
We need some changes. We need a system that benchmarks variations so they carry through to the next assessment period. We need comparables available on the county Web site, at least for properties in subdivisions and developments where properties are similar, and we need to have the protest form printable from the Web site. We need an assessor's office open to citizen suggestion. We need an effective manager for County Assessor so we don't overcharge the citizens or shortchange the county.
Fort Collins resident