Adams County assessor insists politics plays no role in his minimizing donors’ property taxes
BRIGHTON — The Adams County assessor has slashed millions of dollars from the taxable value of properties owned by the largest contributors to his election campaigns, a Denver Post investigation found.
As a result, the county is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue each year on properties where records list Assessor Gil Reyes as the account manager who opted to “adjust” their values downward.
The review of assessments on properties owned by top contributors to Reyes’ campaigns found that his leading donor, a California-based warehouse company, has won reductions in taxable value totaling $23 million on 11 buildings. Those reductions saved the company more than $800,000 in property taxes this year
alone.The assessor’s office reduced values of vacant land owned by other contributors as much as 99 percent. It currently classifies a patch of asphalt and acres of weeds as qualifying for low “agricultural” rates.
And Reyes kept the values of custom homes owned by a leading contributor and his daughter unchanged since 2005, while their immediate neighbor — Colorado Rockies star Todd Helton — saw the taxable value of his house grow almost $350,000.
Reyes says campaign donations never influenced the decisions he made.
“I don’t care if they donated or didn’t donate. I don’t care if they’re Republicans or Democrats. I’m the assessor for Adams County,” he said. “Once you’re here, there is no politics.”
Nonetheless, he acknowledged that properties owned by some of his campaign supporters may be taxed at unjustifiably low rates. In some cases, his office is already moving to revoke agricultural-land classifications in response to questions from The Post.
“If we’re wrong,” Reyes said, “we’ll fix it.”