‘I was in shock’: Higher property values means higher taxes for El Paso County homeowners

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Many homeowners are scrambling to budget more money after a sharp increase in property values means people will be paying higher property taxes next year.

A home on Farnsworth Drive in Colorado Springs sits for sale on Monday, May 13, 2019.

The county reevaluates property values every two years, as mandated by law. The El Paso County Assessor’s Office said it mailed out notices of value May 1. County Assessor Steve Schleiker said the average increase was 20-25 percent.

“Many of our property owners are going to have some sticker shock,” he said.

Schleiker told 11 News that the last time there was this big of a jump was during the late 1990s and early 2000s during the dot-com boom.

According to Schleiker, one reason for the increase is because people were paying more for homes during the two-year reappraisal period.

He said there is a lot of demand for housing in El Paso County but not much available, so buyers were getting into bidding wars and paying well over the asking price. That in turn inflated property values, in a way, because home sales are one way the assessor’s office determines a property’s value.

“Those sales that occurred during the 24-month time frame, we nearly set a record here in El Paso County with nearly 43,000 sales,” Schleiker said. “We’re seeing buyers are coming to the table paying $5, $10, $15, $20,000 in cash above the asking price and that’s just something that has occurred and is still occurring here in El Paso County.”

While those higher property values are good news for people looking to sell their homes, it also means a lot of people will be paying more property taxes in the future.

“I was in shock,” said Frank Espinoza, who lives in Colorado Springs. “It was a $400 increase from last year. We’re going to scramble to pay for it, but wow.”

He’s not alone.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat anything for anybody, but all of us, we’re in this together,” Schleiker said. “My value went up. My taxes went up. It’s just a matter of just having to sit there and just swallow. Many of us are going to be paying more taxes this next year.”

Schleiker said the southeast side of Colorado Springs saw one of the biggest jumps.

“We saw folks paying 30-35 percent above the 2017 assessor’s value for properties down there,” he said. “So we saw significant increases in the southeast Colorado Springs, south of Platte, east of I-25.”

If you don’t agree with your notice of value, you can appeal it. There are instructions about how to do so on the back of the notice of value most people got in the mail. They can call, go to the assessor’s office in person or appeal online, and people have been successful in the past.

“About 60 percent of the appeals we go ahead and make adjustments to,” Schleiker said. “These are property owners that provide documentation to support their value reduction.”

He said some of the reasons they would reduce a home’s value is if there is a cracked foundation or any sort of damage to the property that the assessor doesn’t know about.

“The property owner knows the property way better than their assessor’s office does,” Schleiker said.

Ronald Toman has lived in his house in Colorado Springs since 2003. He said the most recent notice of value he got is the biggest jump he’s seen since his time living there.

“Well I just thought that 30 percent increase of valuation was pretty high on a two-year period,” Toman said.

He told 11 News that he’s appealed his property value in the past and plans to do it again.

“I think it’s worth appealing because there’s a lot of data out there that would probably say that’s a little too high,” Toman said.

In 2017, Schleiker said the county got about 3,200 appeals, which is about 1 percent of the nearly 300,000 properties that were reappraised.

“Of the calls that are coming in, folks completely understand their value. They understand what the market is here in El Paso County, but what they’re concerned is the taxes,” Schleiker said. “Some folks appeal just because they don’t want to pay the taxes. Unfortunately, here in the state of Colorado, we cannot appeal our taxes. We have to appeal the value of our property.”

People interested in appealing must do so by June 3.