Douglas County taxes may surprise homeowners

Home values didn't change but ballot issues, mergers, other factors have effect

Posted 1/21/19

Douglas County's 2019 residential tax statements hit the mail in mid-January, and the results may leave some homeowners scratching their heads. That's because 2019 is a non-appraisal year for Douglas …

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Douglas County taxes may surprise homeowners

Home values didn't change but ballot issues, mergers, other factors have effect

Posted

Douglas County's 2019 residential tax statements hit the mail in mid-January, and the results may leave some homeowners scratching their heads.

That's because 2019 is a non-appraisal year for Douglas County — the county did not reappraise homes in 2018, so home values wouldn't be different for 2019 taxes. The last reappraisal occurred in 2017. Normally, this would mean people's 2019 tax statements would strongly resemble 2018's.

Yet a bevy of November ballot measures, district mergers, mill levy increases and decreases across the county will leave residents with plenty of changes to digest on their statements.

Two major issues from 2018 will affect some homeowner's wallets this year. The Douglas County School District passed two ballot issues in November — one being a mill levy override that will raise property taxes county-wide. Also, in Highlands Ranch, South Metro Fire Rescue merged with the Highlands Ranch Metro District, bringing with it a different mill levy.

Douglas County Budget Director Martha Marshall analyzes tax statements each year so Douglas County commissioners understand the impact of increasing home values, she said, and have knowledge of mill levies throughout the county.

In 2018 there were 287 mill levy districts in Douglas County, an increase of two from 2017. By August, more could form. The number of mill levy districts often fluctuates from year to year.

Marshall breaks the county down into regions and compares tax information for a home that provides a good sample for the area, she said. Some communities — like Parker and Castle Rock — have a diverse housing market with a range of home values and numerous tax districts. Different neighborhoods may be subject to a different amount of mills.

This makes it hard to provide a clear-cut example of 2019 property taxes for each Douglas County municipality, but other areas are easier to comprehend. Here's some of Marshall's analysis, paired with feedback from respective taxing authorities.

Countywide changes

By passing the school mill-levy override, 5A, residents throughout Douglas County will see a bump in their property taxes — an additional $43 per $100,000 of assessed home value, according to the district. That's happens to be lower than what the district estimated increases would be during the election.

“The average home value of $470,000 will see an increase of $201 on their tax bill,” said Douglas County School District Chief Financial Officer Scott Smith in a prepared statement. “Communication prior to the election stated this amount would be $208, as DCSD was conservative in estimating assessed valuation across the county.”

Smith said the actual assessed valuations released by Douglas County were higher than the district estimated, resulting in “a lower tax impact for individual homeowners.”

Although every homeowner in Douglas County will pay more in school district taxes, the weight of that mill levy differs by property.

Bell Mountain Ranch

One of the regions Marshall analyses is Bell Mountain Ranch. Homes here, a part of unincorporated Douglas County south of Castle Rock, are generally higher in market value. This means they'll feel the school district mill levy more.

A Bell Mountain home valued at $747,720 will see a $320 increase in annual property taxes from the school district alone, according to Marshall. This region will also pay an additional $11 in 2019 for the Castle Rock Fire District mill levy, a total increase of $331 for that $747,720 home.

Highlands Ranch

In Highlands Ranch, residents will see the biggest tax shift from the school district and the merger with South Metro. It's also an example of how mill levy increases and decreases are affecting homeowners.

A Highlands Ranch home valued at $468,810 will see a $201 tax increase from the school district mill levy, and the cost of service from South Metro is $312.

Although it merged with South Metro, the Highlands Ranch Metro District reduced its mill levy by $236. So, the net effect of switching to South Metro is plus $76.

For this Highlands Ranch house there's also a $9 increase from Urban Drainage & Flood South Platte. In total, the tax increase for that $468,810 homeowner is $285.

Each county resident can see the exact breakdown of their home's annual property taxes on the county assessor's website, www.douglas.co.us/assessor.

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