Summit County Council fields property tax questions
Dozens of impassioned residents share concerns about sharp increases, assessment process
The Summit County Council on Wednesday heard from a large crowd of property owners who expressed concerns about dramatic changes to their property taxes.
Dozens of impassioned residents spoke during public comment after a presentation from the county’s assessor and treasurer about the property tax assessment process. While some of the speakers compared their tax bills to commercial properties or their neighbors, others blamed the assessment process.
“We just heard a lot of excuses,” Park Meadows resident Jeff Danos said. “It is the properties that are flying under the assessor’s radar that are causing these punishing tax increases.”
He argued many commercial and residential properties aren’t paying a fair share, shifting the burden to the average taxpayer. He said he compiled a list of 100 properties that will receive tax reductions this year and expected it would have been larger if he had more time.
Danos was the first to speak and his comments drew broad support from the crowd. The County Council warned the audience against expressing cheers and jeers, but continued outbursts led County Councilor Doug Clyde to walk out of the meeting.
And although elected officials said they are sympathetic, they admitted there isn’t much they can do as they’re bound by state law.
Stephanie Poll, the county assessor, said the county’s real estate valuation has increased steadily each quarter for the last two years. As the total market value increases, the tax rate decreases to adjust.
The State Tax Commission requires each county to conduct a detailed review every five years, but counties also conduct yearly appraisals by using the sales information of comparable properties in the area. Staffers use data from 2021 when determining the valuation for 2022, which can result in properties becoming undervalued months later.
She explained her office is tasked with identifying the market value of all residential and commercial properties in Summit County, which is around 43,000 parcels. Seven assessors cover different regions, including North Summit, South Summit, the Snyderville Basin and Park City proper. They are responsible for completing a detailed review of 20% of properties in their region per year during the cycle.
Poll said an outdated system has also created challenges for the assessor’s office. Certain costs associated with upgrade projects or renovations that are factored into an appraisal have not been updated since 2007. There can even be errors in the coding that can affect property tax assessments if they’re missed by staffers. In these cases, corrections have been made.
The assessor’s office also has a backlog of around 500 commercial properties that have not been re-evaluated in five years, Poll said. These properties are taxed at a higher rate compared to primary residences, but old assessments may undervalue the property. She plans to ask the County Council for funding for a new software program and a data analyst to help address the issue in the next budget cycle.
Poll and Corrie Forsling, the county treasurer, stand behind this year’s property taxes as they followed state procedures. They said most property owners are seeing an increase because of the hot real estate market. There was a 58% increase in the sale prices of single-family homes in Summit County in fiscal year 2021, according to county data.
Property owners can file an appeal through the Board of Equalization until 5 p.m. on Sept. 15 if they feel their property is valued too high. Appeals can only be made on the market value, not the tax amount. Final tax bills will be mailed in October.
Taxpayers who think they may qualify for tax assistance or are curious about what resources are available should contact the treasurer’s office at 435-336-3038. Visit summitcounty.org/boe or contact the Summit County Auditor’s Office for more information.
Summit County Clerk Evelyn Furse said ballots are expected to be mailed on Oct. 18 and should arrive later that week.
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