As required by Section 39-8-108.5, C.R.S., and in order to give taxpayers an alternative to pursuing and appeal of the County Board of Equalization’s decision through either the board of assessment appeals or district court, an arbitration process is established and implemented by the Board of County Commissioners of Pueblo County, Colorado. (Res. 88-244 § 1)
As required by Section 39-8-108.5(1)(a), C.R.S., the Board of County Commissioners of Pueblo County, Colorado, shall develop and maintain a list of qualified persons who shall act as arbitrators of property valuation disputes. Such list shall be in resolution form and shall be kept on file in the office of the Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder. Such list shall be updated or revised by resolution as deemed necessary by the Board of County Commissioners. Pursuant to Section 39-8-108.5(1)(b), C.R.S., in order to qualify as an arbitrator, an individual, in addition to being experienced in the area of property taxation, shall be any one of the following: attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Colorado; an appraiser who is a member of the institute of real estate appraisers or its equivalent; a former county assessor; a retired judge; and/or a licensed real estate broker. Additionally, the Board of County Commissioners may require any other qualifications it deems necessary. (Res. 88-244 § 2)
4.24.030 Arbitration procedures.
A. Filing. Within thirty (30) days of the County Board of Equalization’s decision, any taxpayer who plans to pursue arbitration shall notify the County Board of Equalization of his or her intent to pursue arbitration. Such notice of intent shall be accomplished by the filing of a petition with the County Board of Equalization on a form supplied by the Board. By mailing or hand delivering one copy of the form to the County Board of Equalization which is received or postmarked on or before the close of business on the thirtieth (30th) day following the County Board of Equalizations decision, a taxpayer will be deemed to have properly filed his or her petition for arbitration with the Board. The petition shall include the following:
1. Name, address and phone number of petitioner;
2. Description of the property in question, including address, schedule number, and type of property, i.e. residential or other;
3. Issues for arbitration;
4. Statement to the effect that all required fees have been advanced or are in negotiation with the County Board of Equalization and will be advanced to be held in trust pending the arbitrator’s decision;
5. The name of the arbitrator designated by the petitioner; and
6. The petition must be signed and dated by the petitioner.
Whenever it appears the petition is not filed within the time permitted by law, or the petitioner has failed to exhaust all procedures provided by law before appeal to the arbitrator, or the arbitrator otherwise lacks jurisdiction, the case may be dismissed upon the motion of any party to the action or upon the motion of the arbitrator.
1. Residential Property. Along with his or her completed petition, the taxpayer shall advance one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) to the Clerk and Recorder of Pueblo County to be held in trust to cover the fees and expenses of the arbitration proceeding; which fees shall be held in trust and disbursed as provided in the arbitrator’s decision. The fees shall either be returned to the taxpayer or paid to the arbitrator depending on the arbitrator’s decision.
2. Other Taxable Property. For cases concerning any taxable property other than residential real property, the taxpayer shall, at the time his or her petition is filed with the Board, contact the County Assessor or his or her representative to determine an estimated fee for arbitration. Upon agreement, and deposit of the fee with the Clerk and Recorder’s Office to be held in trust depending the arbitrator’s decision, the matter will be assigned to the arbitrator. The fees will either be returned to the taxpayer or paid to the arbitrator depending upon the arbitrator’s decision.
3. Waiver. Any taxpayer who is unable to advance the fees for arbitration can apply to the Board of County Commissioners for a waiver of the fee requirement. Following the presentation, by the taxpayer, of satisfactory, documented proof of the taxpayer’s indigency to the Board, a waiver will be granted.
4. Witness Fees and Costs. Each party shall pay that party’s own witness fees, attorney’s fees and miscellaneous costs.
Note: No arbitration hearing shall be scheduled until either all required fees have been deposited with the Clerk and Recorder or the appropriate waiver is granted. (Res. 88-244 § 3)
A. Selection of Arbitrator. The taxpayer and the County Board of Equalization’s representative shall select an arbitrator from the list on file in the office of the Clerk and Recorder following the advancement of fees as provided for in Section 4.24.030(B). In the absence of agreement by the taxpayer and the County Board of Equalization, the district court of the county in which the property is located shall select an arbitrator from the list.
B. Scheduling of Hearing. Arbitration hearings shall be held within sixty (60) days from the date the arbitrator is selected by the parties. The hearings shall be at a time and place set by the arbitrator with the mutual consent of the taxpayer and the representative of the County Board of Equalization.
C. Procedure. The arbitrator shall preside at the hearing. Procedures shall be informal and strict rules of evidence shall not apply except as necessitated in the opinion of the arbitrator by the requirements of justice. All questions of law and fact shall be determined by the arbitrator. The arbitrator may determine time limitations or make other decisions in order to conduct a reasonable and fair hearing. All testimony in arbitration proceedings shall be given under oath administered by the arbitrator. The order of proceedings in arbitration hearings shall be as follows:
1. Opening statements, if desired by the arbitrator. The party initiating the appeal shall proceed first;
2. Presentation of evidence by the petitioner;
3. Presentation of evidence by the County Board of Equalization;
4. Presentation by any other party or person admitted to appear; and
5. Final arguments, if desired by the arbitrator, or direction to submit briefs, if desired by the arbitrator.
The arbitrator may, in his or her discretion, alter or amend the aforementioned order of proceedings, at any time and in any manner deemed appropriate and proper under the circumstances.
D. Subpoena. The arbitrator may issue, or cause to be issued, subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and for the production of books, records, documents and other evidence, and shall have the power to administer oaths. Subpoenas so issued shall be served and, upon application to the district court by the taxpayer or the County Board of Equalization or the arbitrator, be enforced in the manner provided by law for the service and enforcement of subpoenas in civil actions.
E. Attendance of Parties. The taxpayer and the County Board of Equalization shall be entitled to attend hearings personally or with counsel and participate in the proceedings. Such participation may include the filing of briefs and affidavits. Upon agreement of both parties, the proceedings may be deemed confidential and closed to the public. The arbitrator may, in his discretion and upon prior written application, permit the appearance or intervention of persons or agencies not parties to the action for the purpose of submitting evidence, argument, or briefs as the arbitrator may direct.
F. Record of Proceedings. No record of the proceedings is required. Should a record be desired, the record shall be by electronic recorder or court reporter at the discretion of the arbitrator. Parties may employ, at their own expense, a court reporter. Transcripts may be made, and shall be paid for by the party desiring the transcript. (Res. 88-244 § 4)
4.24.050 Decision of the arbitrator.
The arbitrator’s decision shall be in writing and signed by the arbitrator. The arbitrator shall deliver a copy of his or her decision to the parties personally or by registered mail within ten (10) days of the hearing. The decision shall include:
A. County docket number;
B. The title of the document as "Arbitration Decision and Award";
C. Full case name;
D. Identities of all parties who were present at the hearing either in person or through representation by counsel;
E. The description and schedule number of the real property in question or dispute;
F. The arbitrator’s decision, i.e., that the arbitrator has found in favor of the taxpayer or the County Board of Equalization and against the other party, and the basis therefore;
G. The amount of change in the valuation of the subject property, if any;
H. The amount of the arbitrator’s fees and expenses, not including counsel fees, incurred in the conduct of the arbitration hearing, and a statement as to which party is to pay the fees; and
I. Signature/date line for the arbitrator to sign and date his or her decision.
The arbitrator shall be immune from civil liability arising from participation as an arbitrator and for all communications, findings, opinions, and conclusions made in the course of his or her duties under Section 39-8-108.5, C.R.S. The decision of the arbitrator shall be final and is not subject to review or appeal. (Res. 88-244 § 5)