"Millions of taxpayer dollars spent on a new computer system with many, many valuation errors...WHY?
A couple of housekeeping matters first:
Ballots have been mailed - while they state "primary" at the top and later state "general" in slightly larger font, they are indeed for the midterm election and should be used according to the Secretary of State.
I will be posting information on the "blue book" in the next few days to give you my perspective on the multiple ballot issues - as promised, the cost of voting yes, and the consequences of voting no. No longer will you go to the ballot box uninformed.
And a brief synopsis of what we have learned so far from my previous blogs:
On overage we are and have been overvalued anywhere from 3-10%;
Homes at $150,000 or less have higher valuations compared to all other homes;
Valuations are up 400% according to the Office of Assessor (pursuant to a CORA request, which does not match the numbers reported to the State); and
Valuations make no sense.
Now, on to my new blog!
Under Frank Beltran who has held elected office for 16 years and is seeking yet another 4-year term, the Assessor's office switched to a new computer system years ago. The number of errors produced by this new system are staggering. A rough determination of the number of these errors may be found in the number of intervening year value notices that are sent out to taxpayers, which I received in response to a CORA request on September 29th. As you may recall Notice of Valuation (NOV's) are typically sent out every other year (odd years). In response to my request (a copy of which is below), in which I requested changes in land values only, a whopping 5,169 NOV’s for 2022 were received. I've included a copy of that email and the NOV's for your reference.
Such intervening year notices are typically only sent to the owners of properties that have added very recent improvements to those properties. However, a cursory review of the 2022 listing of intervening year value notices demonstrates there are HUNDREDS of VACANT LAND properties that received intervening year tax notices. Yet during the debate, the current assessor stated that "land values don’t matter." If that is true, then WHY did the taxable values for vacant land change in an intervening year? And I guess he's never heard the phrase "location, location, location."
Let's look at one example: A local developer (US WESTERN INVESTMENT LLC) had 2021 value changes on multiple vacant lots under development that changed the value on those lots from $960 to $40,000.
Here's one example: 2021 NOV for Parcel 511114001:
The developer most likely protested those value increases, which the current assessor apparently acknowledged were incorrect. Those value increases were most likely a consequence of the improper utilization of the computer system, so Beltran's office reduced those values to $814.
The reason why the current Assessor decided to reduce the taxable value on these lots to LESS than the preceding years value while all other taxable values in the county had experience significant increases is anyone's guess, but those values were, apparently, STILL incorrect. In 2022, Beltran was then forced to change the taxable value on all those lots yet again, from $814 to $944; still below the prior year's taxable value of $960, but at least a bit closer.
2022 Intervening Year NOV for the same parcel:
I also found it interesting that on the Assessor’s webpage, the “total value” (large red numbers in the upper right-hand corner of the webpage) is listed as $944, which matches the 2022 NOV. Here is a screenshot of some of the properties showing the "market value" matching the 2022 valuations:
There are several other pages for this owner, but you get the idea.
But what doesn’t add up is that the Assessor appears to NOT have made this adjustment to the parcels that I specifically asked for in my CORA request: parcels 1505022005 (improved), 1505021002 (improved), 1505022006 (improved), and 1505021001 (vacant), each of which had LAND value increases of $100,000 in the 2022 intervening year. While the NOV reflects the increases (at the bottom of the webpage in a .pdf), the “total value” as shown the website in large red numbers still reflects the OLD NOV as of October 20, 2022. I've attached information with screenshots from the Assessor's webpage and copes of the corresponding NOV's:
Parcel Requested in CORA Webpage “Total Value” 2022 NOV
1505022005 $808,142 $908,142
1505021002 $774,011 $874,011
1505022006 $885,317 $985,317
1505021001 $13,890 $113,890
Yet, OTHER PROPERTIES NOT LISTED in the CORA request have “total value[s]” that MATCH the 2022 NOV, including the ones for US WESTERN INVESTMENT LLC. As another example, parcels in one area (San Carlos Estates) were sent a 2022 NOV changing the land value from $16,288 to $16,800. This matches the “total value” on the website and the new values shown on the 2022 NOV's as of October 19, 2022:
Parcel Webpage “Total Value” 2022 NOV
1305024021 $16,800 $16,800
1305024020 $16,800 $16,800
1305024014 $16,800 $16,800
1305024018 $16,800 $16,800
1305024016 $16,800 $16,800
1305024005 $16,800 $16,800
1305024002 $16,800 $16,800
1305024006 $16,800 $16,800
1305024019 $16,800 $16,800
WHY would the Assessor change the “total value” information on other parcels, but NOT change the “total value” on the parcels that I specifically requested?
What is going on in the Assessor's office? WHY do values have to be repeatedly changed, and WHY do taxpayers have to take time out from their day to address errors made by the County System? There are HUNDREDS of other vacant properties that similarly received intervening year value notices attributable to errors in the original notices...WHY?
These are just some of the inconsistencies that I have discovered. Imagine what I will find and correct when elected.
Pueblo needs new leadership and a fresh perspective. I will not only ensure that values come in as low as statutorily possible but will be proactive on educating YOU on the role of Assessor, your rights, and answer your questions. I will personally schedule meetings every Saturday or every other Saturday all over Pueblo County, even if it is at the local library to discuss and address your concerns.
Here is a copy of the CORA request originally sent on August 20, 2022, and the response received on September 29, 2022:
And here is a listing of the NOV's received: