The taxman cometh. Again. And he's bringing good news for Moffat County coffers.
The Moffat County Assessor's office has completed its property reappraisals, and is preparing to finalize the expected tax revenue for 2001. Preliminary number show the county will earn about $1 million more than it did in 2000.
That means residents may pay higher property taxes.
Those who want to tell the Assessor's office its numbers are wrong need to act fast. But be careful what you wish for.
"This is the time that people need to protest their assessed property value," said Suzanne Brinks, Moffat County deputy assessor. "People basically have the entire month of May to file a protest, and that is listed on the notice of value we send to everyone.
"Most people wait until they get their tax bill in January, but that is much too late it's after the fact," she said. "The budgets have been set. People need to protest now before the numbers become set."
An appraisal is based upon what houses in the neighborhood or area have sold for during the past two years, along with any improvements that were made to the property.
The Assessor's Office reassesses property every two years.
Residents who think a mistake has been made need to show cause as to why the property has been incorrectly valued, Brinks said.
"We do make mistakes. We can't look at every house in the county," she said.
But be forewarned: Most of the time, when the Assessor's Office examines a claim, the price goes up.
"If we do go to someone's property to evaluate a protest, we'll usually find a new barn or deck, or something similar that we weren't aware of until we had to make a closer examination of the property, so the property value is adjusted up," Brinks said.
During the last appraisal, 310 protests were filed; 176 of those were denied, while 134 were adjusted.
Moffat County's revenue from property taxes last year was $20,234,894, and based upon the reappraisal, the county will take in an additional $1 million to $1.25 million this year, Brinks said.
With the appraisals completed, the numbers will be turned over to the Moffat County Treasurer's office for collection.
"This tax money is used for the budgets of the schools, the fire department, the hospital, the library, the City of Craig we need to collect every penny for these budgets so they can function," said Joy Hammat, Moffat County treasurer.
Over the last several years, the treasurer's office collected more than 99 percent of tax revenue.
"We need to get the money on time so we can send the money to the various entities in our county," Hammat said. "We've been fortunate. I usually only have to make a few phone calls and things get settled."
Another tool for collection is a tax lien sale. If the taxes on a piece of property aren't payed, the tax bill, interest, and advertising charges are lumped together and sold off in a bid process. That way, the county can get the money it's owed without significant delay, and keep county services and institutions properly funded and functioning.
If someone buys a particular piece of property in a tax lien sale for four consecutive years, that person can apply for the deed to that property. Until the fourth year, the delinquent landowner has the right of redemption, in which the landowner pays all the taxes, interest and expenses amassed. Tax lien sales each November.
"A lot of people wait until the fall, when they'll have the funds available to pay, and take care of their bill prior to the sale," Brinks said. "We'll have anywhere between 100 and 400 tax liens, and in most cases, a lot of those are mineral interests."