A $90,000 increase in a particular line-item in the county’s 2018 budget means business owners in Grand County may want to prepare for higher property-tax bills later this year.
Tax rates themselves have not gone up, but the values of business properties probably have, in the five years since the county last appraised them.
“Every five years we’re required by state law that we reappraise different areas of the county,” said Grand County Assessor Debbie Swasey. “This year, it’s a commercial reappraisal.”
Swasey spoke to The Times-Independent last month, explaining an increase from $20,000 in 2017 to $110,000 this year for “reappraisals,” a specific line-item in her office’s portion of the county budget approved last month.
The extra budgeted amount will pay for the commercial-property reappraisal, which Swasey said would be done by a company her office will contract with to do the job, after putting it out for a competitive bid. Swasey said appraisals would be finished in time to be used for calculating 2018 tax assessments.
Given the connection to possibly higher tax bills, it’s understandable that property owners would be reticent to let appraisers do their work. But, said County Clerk/Auditor Diana Carroll, “It’s important that they understand it is to their benefit,” to let appraisers make their inspections.
Properties will be revaluated regardless, based on valuations of similar or neighboring properties, just as in residential valuations. Carroll said it’s better that a property be part of the equation in determining its own value.
From the last time the county reappraised commercial properties in 2013, “Property owners should anticipate value increases of 20 to 30 percent, on average,” said James Ahle, a commercial property appraiser with U.S. Property Valuation in Salt Lake City, who works throughout the southern and southeastern Utah regions.
Ahle said it is difficult to nail down anything definitive for a market as small as Moab’s. However, “If we take all of southeastern Utah combined we see a trend of price increases that started to gather steam in 2013 and have been increasing steadily,” he wrote in an email to The Times-Independent.
The last two years have seen particularly strong increases in commercial-property market values, Ahle said, and the strongest demand for commercial than at any time since the recession of 2007.
Despite the expected increase in property valuations, the county’s budget does not anticipate any corresponding increase in the amount of property-tax revenue that will come as a result. That number in the 2018 budget remained unchanged from 2017’s level of $2.6 million.