Local property owners overcharged on taxes

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

An error made by a state agency in Santa Fe has resulted in Roosevelt County property owners being overcharged on their 2006 property taxes.

The mistake will result in $251,318 in tax relief to county residents, according to a Feb. 8 letter county officials received from Robert Apodaca, director of the Local Government Division of the Department of Finance and Administration.

Just how that relief will be provided was a topic of discussion at Tuesday’s Roosevelt County Commission meeting.

The letter said the mistake was due to human error in computing the rate for the 2.0 mill operating property tax imposed in Roosevelt County in 2005.

“This is not a local error, it came from the state,” Roosevelt County Treasurer Nancy Belcher explained to commissioners. “We have local checks and balances in place so this doesn’t happen.”

Belcher said her concern was she could have as many as 4,000 refund checks to process and some of those could be for as little as six cents. She said the cost of sending out the checks would be considerable and something not accounted for in her office’s tight budget.

She said she had unsuccessfully sought clarification from the state on whether or not the refunds could be applied as a credit to next year’s taxes.
County Attorney Randy Knudson said after the meeting he had been in touch with Department of Finance and Administration’s attorneys about the matter but hadn’t resolved it yet.

Belcher said she wouldn’t be able to give property owners information on their refund at this time. She said she hopes to have the problems resolved before April.
Belcher said state officials had told her 16 other counties had similar problems.

The Department of Finance and Administration could not be reached Tuesday to confirm if other counties were involved.