Delinquent property tax listing approved for 2010

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The Socorro County Commission approved its 2010 delinquent property tax listing with the state Tax and Revenue Department during its regular meeting July 23, as well as heard some words of frustration from county staff about the state’s handling of the matter.

Treasurer Tina Lujan said 5,754 parcels totaling over $1.8 million are delinquent in the county. Delinquencies from 2010 and earlier have been turned over to the state TRD for collection.

Lujan said her office has worked hard trying to collect the delinquent property taxes. A representative from the TRD came to work with the treasurer’s office for about four weeks. She said the representative is gone now but may be back sometime in August.

“I’m kind of disappointed with the state of New Mexico with how they’re treating our Socorro taxpayers,” Lujan said. “They send a representative over to collect these delinquent taxes or to make arrangements with our taxpayers … He gets a hold of taxpayers who honestly do want to pay their taxes, and then the state calls him back on a renewal of contract matter so now we’re sitting here with no representative.”

Lujan said several people had set up arrangements with the representative to pay their taxes. However, since it reached the state level, the state is not honoring any understandings the people established with the representative.

“So these taxpayers are (saying), ‘Well, what do we do now? Who do we pay?’” Lujan said.

Lujan said another concern has come to her attention: The treasurer’s office has collected taxes from taxpayers who have come in, but the county hasn’t received the money. She said the 2010 delinquent listing includes a lot of people who have paid already. However, since the state has not disbursed the payments to the county, the treasurer’s office can’t credit those accounts and the taxpayers are still listed as delinquent.

Commission Chairman Daniel Monette asked Lujan if she would share her concerns with the New Mexico Association of Counties. Lujan said the disbursement of payments problem is happening with all county treasurers, not just Socorro County.

“If you enter into a contract with the state of New Mexico, they can technically hold — until that parcel is paid in full, they will not disburse anything to the counties,” Lujan said. “So when we’re doing our collection or our disbursement to our agencies, they’re the ones who are suffering. And the state is holding onto this money till those parcels are paid in full.”

County manager Delilah Walsh said at one point TRD decided not to allow counties to collect partial payments on property tax delinquencies. Then TRD reversed that decision, but still refuses to allow Socorro County to collect partial payments. Walsh noted the TRD did not give any reasoning for this.

“They won’t even answer phone calls from me anymore,” Lujan said of the TRD, “emails either.”

Lujan said TRD does not allow the Socorro County treasurer’s office to collect any delinquencies from 2010 and prior. Those delinquencies are all referred to the state; the state will collect those delinquencies and disburse the payments to Socorro County.

“At their will and when they’re ready,” Monette said.

“But they don’t answer phone calls from our constituents who want to pay,” Walsh added.

Julie Griego, county assessor’s office manager, said she knows of a property owner who paid their back taxes in February — and sent the TRD a copy of their check — but TRD still refuses to acknowledge the payment. The property owner is still on the record as delinquent, which is holding up that person’s loan.

“And the title companies are getting pretty frustrated,” Griego said.

The commission approved the resolution for the delinquent property tax listing. Monette advised county staff to follow up on the matter with the state and keep the commission informed about it.