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Property tax statements hold big surprise

Posted at 12:51 AM, Jan 23, 2016

If you haven’t opened your property tax statement yet, be prepared for a surprise.  You’re likely to see a sizeable jump in your tax bill.

“When people see their property tax bill go up, it’s because the value of their property went up,” said Cary Kennedy, Chief Financial Officer for the City & County of Denver. 

Kennedy said property values have gone up dramatically in Denver.

“Most people have seen significant growth in the values of their homes,” she said.  “Our average home values have grown from $220,000 to over $280,000.”

The CFO said that’s translating to a $300 increase in taxes for the average homeowner in the Mile High City.

Last year, the taxes paid on a median home value was $1,475.  This year, it’ll be $1,794.

“That’s crazy,” said one homeowner, who added that she’d received her statement in the mail, but was afraid to open it. “You’re telling me it’s going up $300? I’m glad Denver’s popular, but that’s too much.”

“I don’t have a problem with it,” said Dave Lucia. “We get good service for the money.  I think taxes are relatively low compared to the rest of the country in major cities.”

Lucia said the tax money is put to good use for education, public safety, streets and parks.

“We need to invest in those things,” he said.  “I think we’re seeing in cities like Flint, Michigan where they didn’t invest and that’s what you get.”

It’s the same story elsewhere in Colorado.

Jefferson County sent out 200,000 property tax statements this month and expects to collect $777,000,000.  Last year, the county collected $712,000,000.

Larimer County sent out over 150,000 statements.  Treasurer Irene Josey said payment of those taxes will generate $436,000,000.  

“That’s $56,000,000 more than last year,” she said.

Denver sent out 210,000 statements that will generate $1.09 billion dollars.  $380,000,000 of that is just from residential property.

“The good news for Denver is that in 2012, citizens voted to approve Ballot Measure 2-A that capped property tax growth,” Kennedy said.  “This was referred to the citizens by Mayor Hancock in an effort to protect homeowners from having a big spike in property taxes when their values go up, exactly what we’re seeing today.”

Kennedy said the cap is saving the average homeowner $65 to $70 on their tax bill.

She also said that compared to other large cities, Denver’s taxes are fairly low.

“We rank 47th lowest out of the 50 largest U.S. cities,” she said. “So our taxes are among the lowest in the country.”