Douglas County finds property tax error affecting thousands

Residents in and near Lone Tree can expect new tax statements soon


Douglas County says an error made when calculating residential and commercial property taxes resulted in thousands of homes receiving incorrect tax statements in January.

Approximately 7,600 property owners in Lone Tree, Acres Green, Province and Province Center near Highlands Ranch who were undercharged will receive corrected statements in the near future. The owner of a home valued at $579,745 can expect a difference of $311 to their amended statement.

The error occurred when staff excluded a portion of the South Suburban Park and Recreation District's mill levy on the mill levy certification. The district said on March 11 it was not prepared to comment but that the process for amending the mistake was in Douglas County's hands. The error shorted the district nearly $5.6 million in operating revenue.

Douglas County Budget Director Martha Marshall said the mistake was made by the county's budget office. The office learned of the error on March 8 after being alerted by the district. Marshall apologized to the district and other county offices involved in preparing tax statements.

“Errors like this are not acceptable and we will be implementing new procedures so that this never happens again,” Marshall said. “It was (the budget department) that made the error. It was completely our fault.”

County commissioners heard the matter at their March 12 board meeting and approved a resolution correcting the mill levy certification. The assessor's office will now correct the mill levy in its system. The treasurer's office will then prepare new statements.

The South Suburban Park and Recreation District manages indoor and outdoor recreation amenities in six communities and three counties, including Littleton, Centennial, Lone Tree and unincorporated portions of Douglas, Jefferson and Arapahoe Counties. The mill levy error affected Douglas County residents only.

The county has set up a hotline for anyone with questions, available at 720-733-6922. The hotline's hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. through 5 p.m.

Marshall told Colorado Community Media the budget office will begin comparing prior years' certification numbers against the current year's submission and explaining any variances found. The office will also begin asking all districts to use the same state tax form when submitting tax information and is researching additional procedures.

“There has been no cover-up involved here. As soon as it was discovered, staff worked most of Saturday, late Friday night,” said Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Lora Thomas, and staff “worked very quickly to get this resolved.”


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