[September 21, The Bridges]. At MAR’s quarterly members and affiliates meeting, members learned a lot about Montrose land use and property taxes, both complex subjects. Guest speaker Steve White, Montrose County Planning and Development Director, addressed a lot of public questions about land use and road building.
Building permit applications are way up, standing at 85SFR right now. (There were 56 in 2016 and only 29 iin 2015.) “We should make 100 by the end of the year,” he said. Surprisingly, 80% of permit applications are for boundry line adjustments, most initiated from estate planning. Plats older than 20 years may not be accessible on the assessor’s website, and boundaries can be nebulous. White also noted that there is a lot of inventory from when developers came in around 2007-08, and the market dried up. Farmers are using the paved infrastructure for their tractors and hay bailers, waiting until the market returns for subdividing and selling off farmland. “Right now, we’ve got enough inventory for ten years,” he said. The other issue is that any subdivision must be at least 35 acres and front on a paved county road, which lets out a lot of the mountain property. Lack of water is another issue.
Addressing roads, White said that the county paves about 10 miles of road per year, totally resurfacing, so roads will last longer. Most of the work is done by contractors, and county road crews concentrate more on repairs. Equipment maintenance and road and bridge engineering will be headquartered at the new fleet shop, which will be the biggest building in Montrose County.
Addressing code enforcement, White said, ‘Junk cars and houshold trash are the biggest problem.” Code is bein changed in the West Montrose business district to allow mini-storage, car repairs, and long-term-living RV Parks. This brought up an interesting discussion on ‘tiny houses,’ which have become popular. “If it’s on wheels, it’s an RV and has (license) plates,” he said. If it’s on a permanent foundatin it requires a permit. One problem is with a 300 SF Tiny Home, he noted, is there “no place for all your stuff, so your junk just collect outside, can turn the area into a slum.” So code enforcement will be very important.
There was also a lively discussion about what is and what is not classified as “ag property” and the fincancial concerns of permitting versus property taxes, something which was discussed further by Mr. Hughes.
County Assessor Brad Hughes, gave a Power Point Presentation, discussing trends in property valuations and how property tax is calculated. Colorado has one of the lowest residential property taxes in the country—7.9%. To offset the discount, commercial property taxation is above the national average, at 29%. “Residential property is valued per unit,” he explained, and a unit could be an acre (or whatever size one parcel is). Agricultural property is not based on residential value. This is important to understand, because the majority of Montrose County is zoned agricultural.
Developers get a nice discount for holding lots in inventory, and this is passed on to the buyer—until a new certification is done, generally the year following the property purchase.
Hughes also pointed out that “comps’ (comparisons of like=property sales) are misleading. Assessments are two years behind market value, and raw MLS listings don’t help.Appraisers tend to target a number (loan amount) rather than the property’s actual value. A spate of forecloures and bank-owned property sales isn’t helping to determine market value or assessed value. Also, some of the properties have not been sold for some time, so buyer and seller (and lender) need to do some research to determine value.
Due to the complexity of his topic, and the number of new questions that developed, Brad Hughes will give a presentaton to MAR members on November 16,9-10:30 am at the MAR office.
Michael Underwood, our new chair, also spoke briefly, outlining his desire to see his tenure as chairman market by “partner’ both as a noun, describing the relationship of members, and as a verb, defining how we work together. Underwood also reminded us of the importance of our relationship with affiliates. “Without them, we would have a hard time doing our jobs!” he said.