The longtime artistic director at Breckenridge Backstage Theatre, Chris Willard, is leaving his post for reasons he won't discuss.
Reached over the phone on Wednesday, Willard declined to talk about his pending resignation, saying only that he hopes to get some much-needed rest after leaving his job, which is expected to happen in late September.
While Willard confirmed he sent a letter to the theater's volunteers on Wednesday informing them of his decision and thanking them for their support, he said over the phone that his reasons for leaving the job he's held for the last 13 years were something he'd rather not go into.
"(Wednesday) marks my 13th anniversary with the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre," states an excerpt of Willard's resignation letter, the only piece of the letter that was provided to the Summit Daily.
"Looking back, I am immensely proud and satisfied with the theatre's growth and accomplishments during my tenure," the letter continues. "I will always remember the wonderful years of being part of such an honest, authentic and supportive Rocky Mountain community."
Via email, the president of Backstage Theatre's board of directors, Nina Jannetti, also declined to talk about Willard's departure. Instead, the board offered the excerpt of his resignation letter along with a statement complimentary of his work.
"The Breckenridge Backstage Theatre Board is sad to see Chris leave the organization," the board's statement reads. "Chris has worked tirelessly to deliver high quality productions in our community. We are grateful for his endless dedication to the theatre over the past 13 years and we wish him continued success in the future."
Jannetti declined the newspaper's requests for an interview, telling the Summit Daily via email that the board and Willard "mutually agreed" to send out just the excerpt from his resignation letter and the board's statement, both of which have been published here in their entirety.
Gigliello's resignation came just one day after the board publicly apologized for a satirical sketch at the theater's biggest fundraising event of the year that poked fun at President Donald Trump.
"We would like to apologize to those guests who were offended by a brief political satire skit performed during our program, and please know that this will not happen again," the short apology went. "The intent of the evening is only respect and gratitude at an event that is so meaningful to us, our patrons, and supporters."
Like Willard, Gigliello also declined to discuss her reasons for leaving in any kind of detail, saying only that she and the board "didn't see eye to eye on some things."
With Gigliello's and Willard's almost side-by-side departures, Backstage Theatre will have seen the departures of three executive directors and now its longtime artistic director in roughly one year's time.
Before and during his time at Backstage Theatre, Willard directed shows at the Arvada Center, Town Hall Arts Center, Theatre on Broadway, The Dairy Center, Country Dinner Playhouse, TheatreWorks and the Nomad Theatre, according to his bio.
He has been a director, actor, producer and playwright with a long, long list of local credits in the Denver area and with Backstage Theatre, including everything from children's productions like Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" to comedies more appropriate for adults, such as "The Full Monty."
On a relatively small budget, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre is a local nonprofit that offers a year-round slate of productions for a variety of ages with three full-time employees, one part-time worker and numerous volunteers.
Everyone seemed to get to speak their piece Tuesday night, but nobody got what they really wanted when Breckenridge Town Council unanimously passed a series of changes updating the town's rules and regulations regarding short-term rentals.
Short-term renting has created a new way for property owners to earn extra income by renting out their homes for short stays on websites like Airbnb.com and VRBO.com or through property-managment companies. However, the practice has also ignited debates across the county as many people feel like short-term rentals are degrading the quality of life in residential neighborhoods.
The most contentious provision of the ordinance, passed Tuesday on second reading in Breckenridge, will allow the town to set up a 24-hour hotline so that people may call with complaints about short-term rentals. When a complaint comes in, the hotline will then contact a designated "responsible agent" who will have up to one hour to resolve the complaint or face a possible violation. Repeated violations could result in the loss of the owner's business license. No violation would be assessed without a hearing, should the property owner request one.
Town staff and council have repeatedly framed this as the town's best effort to reign in the noise, parking and trash complaints piling up outside these properties while refraining from infringing on property owners' rights inside the homes.
"If we're respecting private property rights, I think on the other side we have to respect the rights of the neighborhood and community that might be having issues and trouble," Councilman Gary Gallagher said. "I think this really speaks to making sure we are caring for the neighborhood and the neighbors as much as we are for those who own the properties and have private property rights."
With the ordinance, council also set some new fees and definitions while exempting short-term rentals already operating with 24-hour security, front desk and phone systems, like Beaver Run Resort.
Neighbors described the problems they've been having living next to these properties, defined as anything that's rented out for less than 30 days. For some, the council didn't go nearly far enough, hoping to see occupancy caps put on the rentals.
On the other hand, property owners thought the rules went too far. Some argued they've never had any problems with their renters, but live out of state and fear being forced into using a property-management company. Nothing in the ordinace says someone must hire a property-management company, only that a "responsible agent" be available to address complaints, be it the owner, a family member, friend or someone who's paid to provide such a service.
Other owners, who do live locally, have questioned what might happen when they go on vacation, take a daytrip to Denver or otherwise can't get to the property in time.
Council wouldn't budge from its position that short-term rental owners must take responsibility for the complaints at their properties and likened them to small-business owners. The town did, however, tweak numerous aspects of the proposal from first reading to second based on some of those concerns.
The changes include replacing "local agent" with "responsible agent" to avoid confusion while adding a provision for an alternate responsible agent in case the primary agent cannot be reached and clarifying what exactly constitutes "resolving a complaint."
New language in the administration regulations, which go with the ordinance but don't need council approval, now clearly state that the responsible agent may not actually be required to go out to the property to resolve a complaint, especially if it is deemed unsafe.
"We put in a provision to make it clear that the town is not expecting anybody to put their life in danger to enforce these rules and regulations," town attorney Tim Berry told council. "It's not our intent, and we don't want that to happen."
If the responsible agent feels he or she cannot safely address the issue, the agent should call police, town manager Rick Holman emphasized.
In passing the ordinance, council members expressed their belief the new rules won't likely be a problem for the vast majority of short-term rental owners and took solace in the fact that neither owners nor neighbors seemed completely happy with the ordinance.
"We went through the gamut with occupancy and everything. This is what we felt like is the correct, right step," said Mayor Eric Mamula addressing people from both camps. "I know that for some of you, it is not enough and, for some of you, it is too far, which means we're probably in an OK place to start."
Much of the ordinance was gleaned from a similar measure in Vail. Reached over the phone, Vail's tax and licensing administrator Johannah Richards said she thinks the biggest test will come with the ski season, but Vail's already seen "quite a few" complaints since launching the hotline.
Of those complaints, Richards added, only two weren't resolved within the allotted timeframe. Both concerned life-safety complaints like carbon monoxide detectors not functioning.
Additionally, she said it's been "extremely helpful" for Vail to finally be able to quantify the numbers and kinds of complaints the town's seeing from its short-term rentals. Previously, she said, it was easy to make assumptions, but now the town's getting real data about how big issues related short-term rentals, like illegal parking, really are.
During first reading, a number of property owners protested the proposed changes during public comments. Many took issue with a provision requiring that a local agent be ready to address any noise, trash or parking complaint generated by their rental unit within one hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Much like what the town of Vail has done, Breckenridge is looking to set up a hotline that neighbors can call with complaints. The people manning the line would then try to call the property owners to get those complaints addressed.
The revisions after first reading include replacing "local agent" with "responsible agent" to avoid confusion.
The revised proposal also seeks to define what's an "appropriate response" to a complaint and make it clear that the responsible agent may not be required to actually go out to the property to resolve the issue.
The town is also adding language that responsible agents should not place themselves in any situation that could cause them physical harm in order to address a complaint.
One of the goals of revising the town code is to reduce 911 calls over minor issues, council members have said, but the revised ordinance also makes it clear that if, despite good faith efforts, the problem cannot be eliminated, the response agent should call police.
The town also added a provision for an "alternate agent," or someone who would be responsible when the primary responsible agent can't be reached.
Second reading of the proposed changes is set for Tuesday night, when the council convenes at 7 p.m. at town hall, 150 Ski Hill Road.
Anyone who would like to offer comment but cannot attend the meeting can submit their thoughts online at Bit.ly/2MO5xdo.
Always one of the best months for property sales in Colorado's High Country, July saw a wildly high number of luxury homes change hands in Summit County's explosive real estate market.
Defined as any home sold at or above $1 million, luxury housing sales boosted the overall real estate sales volume to more than $150 million, a $5.2 million increase over July 2017 and $46.1 million ahead of July 2016, according to property records at Summit County Assessor's Office.
Summit's top three sales were for single-family homes in Breckenridge, with homes slopeside at Copper Mountain and along a Keystone golf course rounding out the five most expensive sales of the month.
The most expansive lot sold last month with a luxury home on it was a 40-acre parcel with a four-bedroom, five-bathroom, 4,400-square-foot house north of Silverthorne that went for $1.02 million. At the same time, four condos closed at over $1 million each in July, including one at Copper Mountain, two in Breckenridge and another off of Main Street Frisco that sold for just shy of $2 million.
The most expensive housing sale of the month — and the year, for that matter — was for a five-bedroom, 5.5-bathroom, single-family home at 142 Penn Lode Drive in Breckenridge's Shock Hill neighborhood. The 5,069-square-foot home went for $4.7 million. At the base of Breckenridge Ski Resort, Shock Hill consistently has some of Summit's most pricey homes.
"July alone produced $147 million in residential volume, an astounding 57 percent increase over last July," notes the Slifer Smith & Frampton real estate firm in its July market report, attributing the increase in July's sales volume to a record number of luxury homes closing during the month.
Additionally, the assessor's office most recent monthly sales report has 38 $1 million-plus sales on record for July. However, three luxury home sales were turned into the office on June 29, a Friday, and more than one local real estate firm has put the number of luxury homes closing in July at 41.
Because many local firms use Multiple Listing Services data, the recorded sales don't always line up perfectly with the assessor's office, though both are viewed as highly reliable methods for tracking trends in the industry.
According to the Association of Colorado Realtors, which also uses MLS data, of the 58 single-family homes that sold this July in Summit County, the median sales price was just over $1 million, up 17.8 percent from July 2017, while the average sales price was $1.3 million, up 33.7 from the same month a year ago.
For Summit's townhomes and condos, the median and average sale prices were $495,000 and $600,229 respectively, which both increased by just under one-third compared to July 2017.
Meanwhile, the average number of days a home spent on the market in Summit County was down 14 percent and the inventory of available homes for sale was down a whopping 37.8 percent.
Across the state, the Colorado Association of Relators found the number of homes pending sale or under contract in July was up 6.4 percent compared to July 2017. However, the number of listings sold was down 3 percent with a median sales price of $390,000.
Nationally, July brought more of the same with a 0.7 percent decrease in sales, according to the National Association of Realtors. While the median sales price is up 4.5 percent year over year, existing-home sales have subsided nationally for the fourth straight month, reaching their slowest pace in more than two years.
Looking at the industry by region, existing-home sales dropped in the Northeast (8.3 percent), Midwest (1.6 percent) and South (0.4 percent).
Only the West, where existing-home sales rose 4.4 percent, bucked the downward trend. Still, sales in the West remain 4 percent behind where they were at this time a year ago.
With July's decline, real estate sales now have fallen across the U.S. on an annual basis for five straight months.
The association's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, attributes the dip in sales to continuously rising prices, which have been especially hard on first-time homebuyers, cutting into demand.
"Led by a notable decrease in closings in the Northeast, existing home sales trailed off again last month, sliding to their slowest pace since February 2016 at 5.21 million," he said in a statement. "Too many would-be buyers are either being priced out, or are deciding to postpone their search until more homes in their price range come onto the market."
Nationwide, the median existing-home price for all housing types in July was $269,600, up 4.5 percent from July 2017 and marking the 77th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
Realtors are reporting that buyers are swiftly snatching up moderately priced properties as the inventory remains low and new home construction has not kept up, Yun said.
The Federal Transport Authority announced Friday that it had approved $2.2 million in combined grant money to help the Town of Breckenridge and Summit County to purchase electric buses and related infrastructure. The feds will give the money to CDOT, with $1 million going to Breckenridge and $1.2 million to the county, as part of the federal Low- or No-Emission (Low-No) Bus grant program. Low-No partners federal agencies with states to help communities make their bus fleets more efficient with hybrid or fully-electric vehicles. Aside from the projects in Summit, the FTA approved grants for 50 other projects across the country totalling $84.5 million.
"We're very excited about this," said Summit County transit director Curtis Garner. "This is going to help us leverage existing grants we already got, and allow us to move forward with purchasing electric buses and infrastructure. At this rate, we'll probably be able to receive the first electric bus on our fleet in 2020."
Summit County is close to taming the burgeoning short-term rental industry (STR), with the county planning commission ready to introduce a final set of draft regulations to the public on Monday. After incorporating public feedback and making final tweaks, the final regulations will be submitted for approval to the Board Of County Commissioners. The regulations seek to alleviate growing community concern about how the STR market is affecting neighborhood character.
If eventually approved, the regulations will require unincorporated Summit residential property owners to obtain a permit if they ever lease or exchange their unit for 30 days or less.
To obtain the permit, an owner will need to submit proof of a state tax license and other supporting documents, including a self-compliance affidavit. An owner or an owner's agent must also agree to live within 30 miles of the property and be available to respond to issues like noise or trash complaints, 24/7.
The regulations will also enforce limits to occupancy and parking for individual STR units. For occupancy, the limit is two people per bedroom plus an additional two occupants. An example cited is an occupancy limit of eight for a three-bedroom rental.
As far as parking, there will be a limit of five parking spaces for any single STR unit, with a minimum of two spaces for each unit and one space for each bedroom. Owners will be able to appeal for a reduction or increase in parking space limits if they can make their case that they can accommodate the vehicles, as well as assure the county that the limit change won't affect neighborhood character.
The owner must also sign a Good Neighbor policy and provide a copy of the policy and other relevant information to tenants when they stay. When advertising a unit on sites like Airbnb, Craigslist or VRBO, owners must include the permit number in the listing to track compliance and STR inventory.
Health and safety rules will be enforced, with one of the most important provisions requiring STR units to properly bear-proof their trash containers.
To help enforce the regulations, the county will contract a third-party monitoring company that will monitor STR listings for compliance, as well as track complaints from tenants and neighbors. Should there be multiple and/or egregious complaints filed against an owner, they may have their STR permit revoked in an administrative hearing. The county finished accepting bids for third-party monitoring last week, and should have a contract signed if the regulations are enacted.
Because of the county's limited legislative authority, the regulations will be enacted through the county's land use and development code. This means that while the county can't regulate people, it can set restrictions on how the land is used. In practice, that means the county can't restrict the number of STR units any individual owner can own, but can require that every unit has its own permit.
Planning director Don Reimer said the regulations are necessary due to numerous negative effects of an unregulated STR market cited by locals.
"Being heavy handed is not the purpose of these regulations," Reimer said. "We realize STRs are very important to our tourist-based economy. At the same time, residential neighborhoods are not meant for commercial use, they completely alter a neighborhood's character. We are also looking through lens of health, safety and welfare, which is what all zoning codes are based (on). A lot of these regulations are intended to be more responsive to concerns from the community."
Reimer added that state law requires sales tax collected on any commercial enterprise. Those sales taxes will pay for the county and state to provide the increasing amount of resources being devoted to keeping up with visitors and their needs, such as emergency services and infrastructure.
The Countywide Planning Commission public hearing will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Monday in the Buffalo Mountain Room at the Summit County Commons, 37 Peak One Drive, in Frisco. Members of the public will be able to provide comment. To review the agenda and proposed regulations in their entirety, visit the Summit County Planning Department website at Co.summit.co.us/planning.
Oktoberfest is coming to Summit County as the town of Breckenridge and both Arapahoe Basin and Keystone resorts will hold their own versions of the traditional German beer festival in September.
A-Basin will host its first Oktoberfest event on Sept. 15 from 12 to 4 p.m. at the Mountain Goat Plaza. The event will feature live Austrian folk music, Paulaner beer and pretzels.
Keystone will host its 6th Oktoberfest celebration Saturday, Sept. 1 from 12 p.m. onwards at River Run village. Keystone's event will include the annual Das Bier Burner 5K fun run, which raises money for SOS Outreach, and a village merchant tent sale. A beer garden will feature seasonal craft beers from New Belgium Brewery as well as schnitzel and brats. "Those Austrian Guys" will play live music along with traditional German dance performances from the Edelweiss Schuhplattlers.
Finally, Breckenridge will host the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the region from Sept. 7-9. Breckenridge's Main Street will close and turn into a street party with traditional costumes, German food, polka music, Bavarian dancers, children's activities, a keg-tapping ceremony, and 5K run.
Fall is landing in Summit County with chill and raindrops, and focus is starting to shift from the stress of a dry, fiery summer to hopes for a snow-packed winter. While it is far too soon to accurately guess what kind of snow the High Country will wind up getting, there's at least hope for average snow in Summit based on predictions for the 2018-2019 climate pattern.
El Niño is a term originating from the 1600s from the Spanish "El Niño de Navidad," or child of the nativity, as the pattern usually occurs around Christmas time. The importance of the climate pattern, which alternates with a neutral or La Niña pattern every two to seven years, can't be overstated. It can affect the livelihoods of fishermen in Central and South America, cause severe droughts in South Asia, and cause major and minor disruptions to typical climate patterns all over the planet.
El Niño sees a warm pocket of ocean water form in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, extending from Central and South America outwards.
The opposite pattern, La Niña, causes cold water to collect in that same part of the Pacific.
The type of pattern has downstream effects in the United States, affecting where cool, moist air can wind up by shifting the path the Pacific jet stream takes across the country. The biggest impact of El Niño occurs in the winter from December through February.
El Niño can shift jet streams south, pushing cooler, wetter weather into Colorado's backyard, whereas La Niña usually shifts the jetstream north and brings the opposite — hotter, drier weather — to the western U.S. La Niña was one of the reasons for the drought and wildfires across the west this summer.
Joel Gratz, owner of OpenSnow.com and known to Summit locals as the resident snow expert during ski season, posted his first look at what kind of climate pattern we might experience in the coming months. Gratz said that the NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is offering a 70 percent chance of a "weak" to "moderate" El Niño. He said that information is important for longer-term forecasts, but still not enough to accurately predict the amount of powder the county will get.
"It's one of the better predictors for the six-month winter forecast, which is why you always hear about it," Gratz said. "It's not because it's the only predictor, but because it's one of the only good predictors we have for a long-term forecast."
Gratz said that the amount of precipitation has a fair correlation with stronger El Niños, with stronger patterns often resulting in big dumps through the winter. However, Gratz said that merely weak or moderate El Niños are not reliable to predict snow.
"I would temper expectations this season," Gratz said. "Whether it's la Niña or El Niño, there isn't a super strong correlation in Colorado. For Summit County, a really really strong El Niño can bring a lot of snow, but these weak to moderate patterns don't present much of a correlation."
Gratz also said that the "dividing line" for patterns can run through Colorado, creating that much more uncertainty for local forecasts. This past winter, La Niña's dividing line between cooler wet air and drier hot air ran straight through Summit County, leaving areas north and east of the county with average precipitation while leaving most of the western slope and southwest bone-dry this winter. Summit was stuck in the middle with less than average snow.
Even in an El Niño year, other factors, such as local temperatures and the exact path of the jet stream that separates the cool and dry air, may be more important than the broader pattern occurring in the Pacific, and even a minor jetstream shift can change local day-to-day weather patterns.
"Even if El Niño was a good predictor, it couldn't get us to such a specific level that we can predict how much snow we'll be getting," Gratz said. "For snow lovers and meteorologists, long-range forecasting based on El Niño is more of a fun exercise than a useful exercise."
Gratz said that closely following short-term forecasts is the way to go during ski season. To help people get those short-term forecasts at the palm of their hands, OpenSnow has launched an app called OpenSummit that tracks weather conditions for mountain peaks in Summit and many others across the country. The app is available on the Apple app store, with plans to expand to Android next summer.
What kind of impact does a massive new housing development make on a county? It's time to find out.
Summit County and the town of Frisco are pushing forward with a site impact study for the proposed Lake Hill Workforce Housing project, a prodigious effort to bring more than 430 new units of affordable workforce housing to the county. The project, located on 44.81 acres of unincorporated land between Interstate 70 and the Dillon Dam Road northeast of Frisco, has been in the works for over 16 years. The study will examine the cumulative demand for services and facilities that would result from the development.
"The big intent of doing this project is to get those impacts analyzed so that we have our eyes open going into the project in terms of what this means for the town and county to be adding that many residences, and potentially 1,000 new residents," said Randy Ready, town manager for Frisco. "There's urgency in affordable housing, but we want to do it right with a fiscally responsible project that meets the housing needs we have. That's why we're taking the time to do this."
The property was identified as a potential workforce-housing location back in 2001 as part of the county's Tenmile Master Plan. Given the land's status as U.S. Forest Service property, Summit County couldn't acquire the land until 2016, following an act of Congress in The Lake Hill Administrative Site Affordable Housing Act signed by President Barack Obama in 2014. The county formally purchased the land for $1.75 million in February 2016.
The county and Frisco, which was brought into the fold due to its proximity to the project, put out a request for proposals (RFP) for the site impact study in late July, marking the first, real forward progress with the project in more than a year.
The study, which is expected to be contracted out sometime after the RFP deadline closes on Aug. 24, will explore the project's potential impacts to the county and Frisco related to increased road and infrastructure demands, emergency communications and services, campgrounds and trails, water and wastewater treatment, distribution services and more.
"In my mind the next important step is to answer some of these questions," said Ready. "We all want more housing, but what does that mean for our existing infrastructure and services? It's just necessary information before we start moving dirt. … This is our best effort at trying to identify what the major impacts will be."
The study names 10 elements to be explored through the process beginning with emergency communication, which will break down an estimate of the increased number of emergency calls to the Emergency Communications Center, the need for more equipment to handle the increased volume and the approximate cost for improvements. The emergency communications element serves as a template for how officials are looking at potential impacts. It largely matches up with the requested analysis of emergency services, fire protection and police protection, all of which dive into increased demand, the need for more equipment, response times to the new neighborhood and the estimated costs for expanded equipment and services. Other community services like health and human services and the library system will also be studied in the scope of work.
In addition to emergency services, potential impacts to roads, traffic, trails and transit will also be studied in depth. Traffic is already an issue for some — Frisco recently began an Exit 203 study to analyze congestion problems and potential solutions — but adding hundreds of cars to the area could certainly exacerbate existing problems. The study will analyze expected rises in traffic volume, the need for upgraded road capacities and signage, and an estimate of costs related to improvements and associated infrastructure. The study will also identify recommendations for extending the Summit Stage transit service to Frisco and Dillon along Dillon Dam Road, and consider impacts to the Heaton Bay Campground and trail system on the property.
Water and wastewater treatment and distribution will also be a key piece to the study. The study will look into the estimated need for additional water services, including the possibility of new facilities to match the increased capacity. In contemplating recommendations, contractors will be asked to consider water source options from the Town of Frisco, Buffalo Mountain Metro District, the creation of a new Lake Hill Water District, Dillon and Silverthorne and more.
While the study is comprehensive, its unclear what it will uncover about the county's services and facilities.
"Our infrastructure systems or operational systems are diverse," said Nicole Bleriot, Summit's housing director. "We consulted with a lot of internal groups and other agencies to make sure we're being as thorough as possible with any potential concerns, so we're casting a wide net. There will be growth impacts on agencies that haven't accounted for it, and we can reach out and figure out what we need to adapt. We might also find that some systems are fine for increased capacity. But we want to raise any and all questions now, and answer those so that we're as prepared as possible."
The study will also consider other growing infrastructure needs such as water drainage systems, electricity distribution systems, natural gas lines and telecommunication systems. The impact to schools and child care will also be analyzed, and finally, a fiscal impact analysis will include the short- and long-term financial repercussions, both good and bad.
Once contracted, the study will take between six and eight months to complete, and will help to inform the construction timeline in terms of how many phases the development will be built in, what gets constructed first and how it's implemented.
"We see it as something exciting and with a lot of potential to fill a need," said Ready. "But we want to do it right, and use those scarce housing dollars in a really responsible way."
One buyer landed a 271-square-foot condominium at Copper Mountain for $85,000 in May 2017, making it Summit County's least expensive condo sale of the 24-month period from July 2016 to June 2018. On the high end, the most expensive home sold during the same timeframe was a 7,625-square-foot luxury home in Breckenridge's Shock Hill neighborhood that went for $6.1 million last December.
The Summit County Assessor's Office has wrapped up its state-mandated, biennial reappraisal process that ended on June 30 with 24 months of data. At a public presentation hosted by Land Title Guarantee Company last week in Frisco, officials from the assessor's office offered some of their findings and highlighted a few outliers, like the budget-friendly condo at Copper Junction and luxury home in Breckenridge.
Across the board, the assessor's office is seeing significant increases in home evaluations for all property types, including condos, townhomes, duplexes and triplexes, and single-family houses.
With that, the median adjusted sale price for a townhome was $649,500 from July 2016 to June 2018. Meanwhile, the median price for duplexes and triplexes was considerably cheaper at $666,500, and the median price for a single-family home outside the ski areas of Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper Mountain was $832,000. Inside one of those ski areas, the median price for a single-family home was over $150,000 more.
Increases in property evaluations are ranging from about 20-40 percent, according to Summit County Assessor Beverly Breakstone, who said most housing types fall somewhere in the 20 percent range.
"But it depends on where it is," she qualified. "There are just some differences that are location-driven."
As previously reported, the assessor's office has seen the most dramatic increase in Keystone condominiums, where the value of the units has skyrocketed about 40 percent over the last two years.
At the same time, condos in the Dillon Valley were up around 30 percent while condos in other Summit County locations increased by about 20 percent, according to Breakstone.
Altogether, over 13,000 condos exist in Summit County, making condos not just the most common housing inventory but the most common type of property in the county, commercial or residential, she said.
To determine property evaluations, the assessor's office relies on a statistical analysis of property sales during the two-year period. All sales must be confirmed by the office, which then has its personnel double-check property information, along with building permits and other influencers. Some of the work requires on-site visits.
Officials with the office will go out to a property to re-measure things like square footage and ensure they're aware of any changes that might affect value. After that, the assessor tries to identify other factors that could influence the evaluation. This could be riverfront land, a home's log construction or even the view. Again, location often comes into play.
"There are just a lot of things we consider to find out if that particular factor influences that value," Breakstone said, adding the key to updating property values is confirmed sales over the two-year period.
Essentially, the properties that have sold help inform the value of those that haven't, she explained. "One thing taxpayers need to understand is we base our data only on sales," she emphasized, adding that simply looking up the appraised values of neighboring homes doesn't help the process.
It's also important to say that just because someone's property value jumps 20 percent in the reappraisal process, it doesn't necessarily mean that person's property taxes will rise by the same rate.
While it's highly likely that rising property values could lead to a heavier tax burden on homeowners, exactly how much someone's taxes could rise — if at all — depends largely on the taxing entity and how that entity sets its mill levy in accordance with state law.
"It's a very defined process that each taxing entity has to determine what their budget is," Breakstone said. "People do get worried about (rising evaluations and property taxes), but it just doesn't mean that. There are too many limitations set by our constitution."
The assessor's office will mail out notices of value to homeowners on May 1. If someone disputes the assessment, there are numerous mechanisms to challenge the evaluation.
After receiving the notice, a homeowner can appeal the evaluation directly to the assessor's office by the June deadline. After that, homeowners can appeal to the county and again at the state level with the Colorado Board of Assessment Appeals after that. If a homeowner remains unsatisfied with an assessment, he or she has the option of taking their appeal to court.