Cleaning up the confusion

EDP, Assessor's Office to host business property tax seminar Wednesday

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If you go

What: "Understanding Your Business Property Taxes"

When: 7:45 to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday

Where: Second-floor conference room, Moffat County Courthouse

Serendipity Coffee Shop plans to provide free coffee and pastries. Assessor's Office representatives will take questions about specific businesses and set up appointment times with residents after the seminar.

For business owners and entrepreneurs curious about commercial property tax bills, two groups plan to answer any and all questions.

The Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership and the Moffat County Assessor's Office plan to co-host "Understanding Your Business Property Taxes," a free seminar at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday at the Moffat County Courthouse second-floor conference room.

"It's a pretty hot topic right now, with tax bills getting mailed out recently," EDP executive specialist Darcy Trask said. "We're excited to have the business community join us."

Jennifer Riley, Assessor's Office chief appraiser, said she and other officials look forward to the opportunity to meet with the community.

"Absolutely we're looking forward to this," she said. "Anytime we have a chance to meet with the public is a great opportunity. They need to know where these numbers come from. They're not just arbitrary things pulled out of thin air."

EDP board president Scott Cook plans to start the meeting with a Gallagher Amendment tutorial, which covers why commercial property taxes are consistently higher than residential property taxes across the state.

In short, Gallagher limits residential property values to 45 percent of the total assessed property value statewide, said Carol Scott, Assessor's Office chief deputy assessor. As more and more residential property is built, each individual property pays a smaller portion of that total.

Commercial properties have not grown at the same rate, and so split the remainder with bigger portions.

John Zimmerman, who determines commercial property value for Moffat County, then plans to talk about how he calculates values and the state derives tax dues. The discussion will include background on mill levies and state tax laws.

Finally, before a general question and answer period, Moffat County Assessor Suzanne Brinks will discuss taxes on business personal property.

Trask said she hopes the seminar will be the first in a series benefiting local businesses and the community at large.

Future seminar possibilities include understanding key issues when buying or selling a business, how the national mortgage climate affects commercial and individual loans, marketing and possibly one on the local wood market.

The last option, Trask said, came from a resident's request to examine the feasibility in starting a wood pellet factory in Craig in light of area forest damage caused by bark beetles.

"EDP hopes to contact and work with local businesses already working in the wood products industry before deciding whether or not to offer this program," Trask said. "However, we have already been working with the state and federal forest service to evaluate the need for such a seminar."

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