|Submitted||Feb. 10, 2021|
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To Whom It May Concern:
Pursuant to the Colorado Open Records Act, I hereby request the following records:
Records (including scripts/"code" from statistical software, if applicable) sufficient to illustrate the procedure(s) used to assess residential & commercial property from 2000-2020, including what underlying data, variables, and statistical software were/are used in mass appraisal. I also request records sufficient to explain any changes made to the assessment procedure(s) during this time frame.
The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.
In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 3 business days, as the statute requires.
To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following Colorado Open Records Act request, copied below, and originally submitted on Feb. 10, 2021. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response.
Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.
Hello Ms. Msall,
Thank you for contacting the Denver Department of Finance with your open records request. Mr. Erffmeyer forwarded your request to me for response. Thank you for your patience while I researched it.
The information you requested (scripts/code) is owned by a third party and, even if the City could be deemed to have "custody" over it, it is protected confidential commercial information and its inspection must be denied in accordance with C.R.S. § 24-72-204(3)(a)(IV). Additionally, the City recently transitioned to a new operating system for its property assessment process and is no longer able to access the database of information you have requested. Therefore, under C.R.S. § 24-72-203(2)(a) the City is no longer in possession or control of the records requested and cannot produce them in response to your request.
Attached is an example of the information we are still able to access dating back to 2011 and could provide to you. If you would like to see this information for years 2011-2019, we anticipate it would take approximately 8 hours. Pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-72-205(6), effective July 26, 2019, staff time for researching and retrieving public records in response to a Colorado Open Records Act request is charged at a rate not to exceed $33.00 per hour. There is no charge for the first hour of time for research, retrieval, and review of public records. It is estimated that your request will take approximately 8 hours to complete, with the first hour at no charge, for a total of $231. Once you have confirmed your decision and made payment for the information, we will be happy to provide it.
Julie Smith | Communications Director
Department of Finance | City and County of Denver
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Thank you for your prompt & informative reply. I have a few follow-up questions, if you don't mind clarifying:
I understand from your email that Denver County outsources the mass appraisal process to Tyler Technologies, and so the mass appraisal code is proprietary. Are there records that explain the agreement the county has with Tyler Technologies regarding what procedure (in a broad sense - i.e. cost, income, or comparable sales appraisal method) will be used?
I also understand that the county switched to a new operating system in 2011 and can't access older records. I am confused, however, as to whether the operating system switch was merely technical, or was a change in assessment procedure. Has the county been using the Tyler Technologies software for the entire 2000-2020 period, or only since 2011? In my initial FOIA request, I requested "records sufficient to explain any changes made to the assessment procedure(s) during this time frame." If the 2011 change was substantive, do records exist that would allow me to understand the change that took place?
Finally, I understand the example you gave me to be the data & variables that the county gives to Tyler Technologies, on which they run their proprietary software. The columns of the example are unlabeled, but I understand them to be different variables. Are the rows individual properties?
Thank you for your assistance as I attempt to understand what I would be paying for. Your help is very much appreciated.
Thank you for getting back to me with your questions. I wanted to clarify a couple of things.
We do not outsource our mass appraisal to Tyler, rather we use their built-in multiple regression analysis tool, which is proprietary to them, to primarily value residential property. We use their cost and income tables to primarily value commercial property. Regarding the system switch, we used Tyler from 1986 to 2020 and transitioned to the new system in September of 2020, which was a technical switch, not a procedural one. Since that mainframe system has been turned off there is no way to access any of the data from it. In Colorado, all of our assessment practices are governed by state statute. Additionally, we follow the IAAO standards and federal guidelines in our mass appraisal efforts.
In your original email you requested, “Records (including scripts/"code" from statistical software, if applicable) sufficient to illustrate the procedure(s) used to assess residential & commercial property from 2000-2020, including what underlying data, variables, and statistical software were/are used in mass appraisal. I also request records sufficient to explain any changes made to the assessment procedure(s) during this time frame.” As I mentioned, the scripts/codes is owned by a third party (Tyler) and there were not changes made to assessment procedures during this timeframe.
Finally, I apologize, I just realized the example I sent you cut off at page one, so I’ve attached the full example which shows one model and should be 36 pages. A typical multiple regression analysis (for residential property) report like this would likely run around 1,500 pages, and as I mentioned would take around 8 hours to produce and could go back to 2011.
I forgot to also add that the contract with Tyler Technologies, if you would like to see that, is available for public inspection through our Denver Office of the Clerk & Recorder<https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Departments/Office-of-the-Clerk-Recorder/city-clerk-records>.