Letter to Editor: Traumatic visit to Saguache County Assessor’s Office


After receiving my recent commercial property tax bill, I went to the Saguache County Assessor’s Office to find out why my new tax bill was $4,500 after being only $57 last year. Since there is no business on the property, I thought it was a typo and was meant to be $450.

After being told the higher amount was correct, I asked about the tax rates (mill levy). Why was the rate so high for a commercial property that doesn’t even have a business on it yet? Everyone in the office just shrugged. One woman stated that it’s high “because Potch [Potch, LLC] sold the properties for so much.” 

I asked three questions about the tax rate. Just a shrug as a response to each question and a reference to Potch, LLC. County Assessor Peter Peterson said it was a special area but couldn’t give me a reason why when I asked.

The cost of this property tax was an extreme shock. The valuation notice that came last summer didn’t give any indication that the dollar increase of my property taxes would be quite so excessive. I could have been saving to pay part of it. Maybe the county assessor can take that into consideration and add a comment line to the valuation notice in the future?

I requested a longer payment plan since I live on Social Security with no other income. The Assessor referred me to the Saguache County Treasurer to discuss a payment plan. They don’t do payment plans. I felt Treasurer Connie Trujillo was rude and disrespectful toward me. I was very upset and tearful when I left the County building. I felt violated. I cried on and off all afternoon. I am not as tough as I was when I was younger. It should not be this traumatic to do business with the county.

This was a very upsetting experience for me — that the Assessor’s Office couldn’t explain to me why the tax rate was so high! Isn’t that supposed to be part of their knowledge base?

I have since researched and determined that the addition of the Moffat mill levy is why I was taxed at a higher rate than other similar businesses in the county. How nice it would have been for Peterson or his staff to have just explained that to me!

Lydia Barton