County budget adds $90K in 2018 for property reappraisals
One commercial-property appraiser says valuations could rise as much as 30 percent since last reappraisal

​ 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.

ByBy John Hales

The Times-Independent