“We want them to start taking into consideration the impact that the property taxes have on the people who are paying them, especially long time residents who can’t necessarily afford these increases.” –Leora Frankel, Boulder resident.
Some residents in Boulder County, particularly within the city of Boulder are concerned about rising property taxes in the past year. Molly Greacen who has lived in the Melody-Catalpa neighborhood in North Boulder for 22 years has seen a dramatic rise in her taxes in the last 12 months.
“In the past year my property taxes went up 25%.” Greacen now pays about $3,400 per year in property taxes. Her neighbor, an 80 year old lady who has lived there over 50 years has seen an increase of 40% in her property taxes. “She has said to the neighborhood that she is going to have to move because of the rising property tax…and we love her, she is a revered elder and so that was one of the precipitating factors for getting together as a neighborhood, a number of people getting together and talking about this issue.”
Greacen’s neighbor, Leora Frankel, bought her house 14 years ago. She said then it was considered an affordable place to live in the city, but that is no longer the case due in large part to developers and speculators who buy older homes and scrape them and build large “McMansions”. Frankel says that type of development raises the prices of all houses in the neighborhood and she is concerned about the future.
“We really don’t want to lose people like this elderly neighbor who says she is going to move back to Wyoming where she was born, and we don’t want to lose the character, the diverse socioeconomic character of our particular neighborhood. We’re very concerned that it is going to become an affluent neighborhood where everybody lives a very similar lifestyle and has a very similar outlook and we don’t want that.”
The Boulder County Commissioners will hear public comment on the proposed 2017 budget at a meeting on Tuesday October 25th. At last year’s budget meeting, no one testified about the increase in property taxes, but Greacen and Frankel and other neighbors will testify about the impact on them. Frankel says they’re hoping to raise awareness about the impact of increasing property taxes on long term residents.
“I think for a start we’re hoping to raise awareness among our elected officials both at the city level and the county level. We want them to start taking into consideration the impact that the property taxes have on the people who are paying them, especially long time residents who can’t necessarily afford these increases. So we want them beyond just sitting down and looking at their budgets and how much they want for each department…before they make a decision they should consider what impact is this increase going to have.”
Greacen say that while seniors and those on fixed incomes are most vulnerable to the rising taxes, people throughout the community are being impacted. She says that the city council pays lip service to retaining the middle class in Boulder, but does not make the connection with the rising property taxes.
“I’ve heard people in the planning department and on city council talking about their concern about retaining the middle class, but they’re completing ignoring these concerns.”
Molly Greacen and Leora Frankel discuss the impact of rising property taxes on their neighborhood.
In the 2017 budget, the county is considering an increase in property taxes of 5.5%, the maximum allowed by the state. But Boulder County Assessor Jerry Roberts says the primary driver of the higher property taxes is market forces.
“It’s directly related to the market, of properties that are buying and selling in the state of Colorado.”
Roberts says property taxes are updated every 2 years. The current property taxes are based on valuations done in June 2014. “At that time, after we’d had a recession of quite a few years, we saw a major increase in the market and for next year, the way that we’ve seen the real estate prices going up in the last 2 years, we expect to see some very high increases. ”
The Assessor’s office has been contacted by many Boulder residents who are struggling to pay property taxes, particularly those on fixed incomes. “We hear from people on fixed incomes all the time and we’re very well aware of that concern…with the property prices going up and property taxes going up, it certainly is a concern for people who are vulnerable in that situation.”
Roberts says there are a couple of programs in place to help seniors pay their property taxes.
One is the senior property tax exemption. “If you turn 65 as of January 1st of the year that you apply and you’ve been in the property as the owner for 10 years, that is 50% of the first $200,000 in actual value, so you get an exemption of $100,000 off that actual value.”
Roberts acknowledges that with the sky rocketing cost of property in the city, that may not take much off the tax bill. “That doesn’t mitigate a lot any more.”
The other two programs to help seniors with their property tax bill are: The Senior Tax Deferral Program, a state program that allows seniors to defer taxes against the estate, and The Senior Tax Worker Program, which is a Boulder County program.
People can find out more about these programs at the Boulder County Assessors website.
Boulder County Assessor Jerry Roberts discusses property taxes.
The Boulder County Commissioners will hear public comments on the proposed 2017 budget on Tuesday October 27th. The meeting starts at 4pm and people must sign up by 3.40pm if they wish to speak.