OURAY COUNTY – Data for 2013 assessed values in Ouray County, released last week, confirms what county officials have been predicting as they seek a new county-wide .75 percent sales tax hike this November to shore up county coffers.
The current year’s total actual value of all real property in the county is down 16 percent from last year’s assessed value – $154,058,550, compared to $183,823,010 in 2012. Likewise, 2011/2012 assessed values were down about $27,799,580 from the 2011 value, revealing an overall trend in dramatically declining values which translates into equally drastic belt-tightening for the county.
As County Commissioner Don Batchelder pointed out during recent discussions about the county’s proposed sales tax hike, Ouray County experienced a $300,000 decrease in revenues due to declining property values last year, and projects a $400,000 decrease this year.
Every odd year, the Ouray County Assessor’s Office, along with the 63 other assessor’s offices in Colorado must perform a state mandated revaluation of every property within the county.
“This revaluation is based primarily on an analysis of market sales during an 18-month timeframe,” Ouray County Assessor Susie Mayfield explained. “For 2013, we looked at sales that took place from Jan. 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012. During the even-numbered years, the only thing that can change value is new construction, demolished improvements, or changes in classification (i.e. residential changing to commercial, etc.)”
This year, Mayfield reported a decline in values in the county across the board. But the largest decreases were seen in vacant land in the Cornerstone and Divide Ranch Estates subdivisions, where the bubble of the local speculative real estate market burst most spectacularly, and where recovery has been painfully slow.
The county’s two municipalities, which depend on property tax revenues to a lesser degree than the county, have nevertheless also borne the brunt of declining values.
Ridgway’s total assessed valuation plunged 13 percent from $31,245,540 in 2012 to $27,275,690 in 2013. In Ouray, values took a slightly more modest plunge, from $32,898,010 to $30,429,820, representing a decline of 7 percent and an anticipated loss of $44,000 to the city’s property tax revenues in 2014, according to City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli. Property tax currently represents 24 percent of Ouray’s General Fund non‐grant revenues.
PENDING ORDINANCE CLARIFIES COUNTY’S ROLE IN PANORAMIC HEIGHTS ENFORCEMENT
County Attorney Marti Whitmore reported that the Environmental Protection Agency has entered into a settlement with Blue Tee /American Lead and Zinc regarding SuperFund remediation work conducted at the Panoramic Heights subdivision several years ago. The county is now poised to consider, at its upcoming Sept. 7 meeting, the first reading of a proposed ordinance that will clarify and limit Ouray County’s role in certain aspects of land use regulation at the subdivision going into the future.
The Ouray County Commissioners will concurrently consider a revised intergovernmental agreement with the EPA and the Colorado Division of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) regarding future development in the subdivision, which was built on a historic tailings pile.
In the wake of the extensive SuperFund clean-up operation conducted by the EPA, the county has sought to limit its responsibility in enforcing EPA-mandated development guidelines at the subdivision going into the future.
The pending ordinance specifically spells out the level of responsibility borne by CDPHE, the EPA and Ouray County for future enforcement. The county would be asked simply to hand out information during the building process, with no further enforcement obligation. However, each time the county issues a building permit in the subdivision, it would have to provide notice to the EPA.
The county will also be required to develop an excavation permit in its land use code for the Panoramic Heights properties.
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