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County unyielding to Doug Bruce’s will

by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG— Protesting a property tax increase of nearly 300 percent, anti-tax advocate Douglas Bruce squared off with the County Board of Equalization on Wednesday, July 27, in an attempt to make his case that the value assigned to his Walsenburg property by the Colorado Board of Assessment Appeals last September is more in line with the true value of the property.
“I purchased this property for $4,000 in the 1990s. Then the county assessor’s office valued the house at $12,000. Then it jumped to $60,000,” Bruce said. In 2010 the county lowered the value to $40,000 after Bruce protested. Right now the county has assessed the value of the property at around $47,000.
Bruce felt that the increases on the uninhabited domicile were out of control and took his case to the Board of Assessment Appeals (BOAA) where the board ruled that the property was worth about $20,000.
“I can live with that,” Bruce told the Huerfano World Journal.
The main contention of the Assessor’s office is they’ve not been able to gain access to the property in an effort to arrive at a more fair evaluation, according to the county’s appraiser Bruce Quintana. “Without that access to view the interior of the house the value should stand.”
The devaluation to $47,000 was based on Bruce’s word until the (BOAA) made its ruling reducing the value of the property to $20,000 and now Bruce wants Huerfano County to go with that number. “The county assessor has a serious problem living within the spirit of the law,” Bruce said. “And the appraiser is acting like a rogue. I think the county is upset at losing to the BOAA.”
Other protests were heard during the Board of Equalization meeting on Wednesday. Arguments presented by protestors centered around values established by comparable sales made during an 18 month period running from January 2009 to June 2010. The protestors have been watching property values decline across the state with Huerfano County being the only county to show an increase in values.