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Saturday April 1st 2023

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That's what she said

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Our Newspaper and Property Taxes


All successful newspapers are ceaselessly querulous and bellicose. They never defend anyone or anything if they can help it; if the job is forced on them, they tackle it by denouncing someone or something else.
H. L. Mencken

The local newspaper is publishing another article about the sale of our home at 1680 Wilson Court, which sold on February 4, 2011.  Because I expect the reporter, his editor, and publisher again to misinform the public on the topic of Property Tax Valuations I decided to do some reporting of my own.

I think we would all agree that a property’s asking price is an amount that a property owner would like to receive for the sale of his or her property.  It’s not the sale price.  It’s not a tax valuation or assessment.  Asking prices can and do change.  And, we can also agree that Boulder property taxes are set as described by the Boulder County Tax Assessor on his website.

A new tax value is usually set when a property is sold.  That price then represents the current value of the property and a new assessment can be made based on the purchase price.  As a local Real Estate Broker told me, “the tax valuation is the tax valuation set by the Tax Assessor every two years, there is no new valuation until a property is sold and then it is based on the sale price.”

I just spoke to Boulder County Tax Assessor, Jerry Roberts, who confirms that he was contacted by a reporter today about the sale of our home.  He also tells me that since the Daily Camera articles about our property taxes appeared in late August and early September of 2010 not one person in Boulder County has asked to have his or her property taxes raised.  Jerry Roberts was quick to point out that as fallout from these articles he has, however, had a number of people “reporting” their neighbors tax valuations to his office.  That is the unfortunate reality.

I also asked Jerry Roberts if the reporter asked him if the property taxes on 1680 Wilson Court were paid in full or ever in arrears and he tells me that the reporter was not interested in that.  It goes without saying that the sale of the home would not have happened if taxes owed.

It is interesting that neither the real estate agent who drummed up the story, nor the CU employee who emailed his friend’s idea to the Camera have asked to have their taxes raised.  And it goes without saying that no one from the local newspaper, the reporter, or its editorial board has volunteered to have his or her property taxes raised either.

Well, why not?  After all, the newspaper said that a homeowner has a duty to report himself  if his tax valuation is lower than the amount of money he thinks he would like to get for the sale of his property.

So I decided to call a few Tax Assessors to find out what happens in other Colorado counties.  They all said essentially the same thing — that it is extremely rare — and none could cite a recent example.

Twenty-year veteran Pitkin County Deputy Assessor Larry Fite said, “I can’t think of a single instance” in which someone has asked for their property taxes to be raised.  Pitkin experienced more Tax Protests last year than the year before.  The number of protests is usually between 10% and 20% of the number of property owners, which would amount to 1,500 to 2,000 Tax Protests received by Pitkin County.  None requested a tax hike.

A quick look at the Denver County Tax Assessor’s website under Frequently Asked Questions reveals several questions about property tax appeal but not one question about how to notify the tax assessor if you think your property taxes are too low.

The Douglas County Tax Assessor’s website has downloadable forms for filing a tax protest online and another to apply for money due back to the taxpayer but no form is available for a taxpayer to request that his or her  property taxes be raised.

And on and on it goes all around the state.

One other noteworthy item is that half a dozen people have told us that they have considered running for Boulder City Council but would not consider it because of the treatment the local newspaper continues to dole out to Macon.  I think Boulder deserves better.

Everyone elected to the Boulder City Council takes the following oath, which bears review:

“I, —– , do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States of America and the State of Colorado and the Charter and ordinances of the City of Boulder, and faithfully perform the duties of the office of Member of the City Council, upon which I am about to enter.”

There is not a member of the council who has not lived up to this oath and in the process governed this city openly and admirably.  And I know that the great majority of Boulderites appreciate it very much because they often tell council members and their significant others so.

It is unfortunate that these “stories” are published as news by the newspaper.  I believe that they are intentional political swipes instigated by two unceasing critics of my husband’s environmental and political values.  That the local paper is happy to report their gripes wrapped up as news is, to say the least, disappointing and not in the best interests of Boulder.

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