County could see property tax increases

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

Many Roosevelt County property owners are facing an increase in property values for 2010, which could mean an increase in tax payments.

For property the state Taxation and Revenue Department determined to be undervalued, rates are to increase 3 percent a year for residential property and 20 percent a year for non-residential property until the listed value is “current and correct.”

Property recently sold or that is already listed at the current value won’t see those increases, and if the county budget remains the same, tax rates might decrease, meaning no change in tax payments.

“It’s all over the state,” said County Assessor Tex Belcher.

The state requires property values to be adjusted every other year, and Belcher said his office has been conservative in the past. Taxation and Revenue Department auditors had no problem with the practice, he said.

Also, Belcher said county appraisers hadn’t been able to get to every nonresidential property, so some were undervalued.

However, he said, the tax and revenue department has a new director and the state is having budget problems this year. When the auditors came in February, they wouldn’t let the assessor’s office mail notices of value until the values were increased.

“They didn’t tell us we needed to; they mandated it,” Belcher said.

The state, county, school district and municipality the property owners live in all receive varying portions of the property tax, and their shares will remain the same, Belcher said.

Chief Deputy Assessor Royene Tivis said the county uses sales ratios to determine values, and the state signs off on them.

Roosevelt County had been setting values to about 85 percent of values shown by sales ratios, Belcher said. Tivis said they did so because property sells at different price levels and so market fluctuations wouldn’t affect the listed value.

However, state auditors required values to be set within 98 percent to 100 percent of what sales ratios indicated, which is more in line with state law.

“Our field of play went up,” Tivis said.

Even with the increases, Belcher said, the taxes will still be lower than those in neighboring states.

“But we’re just spoiled because we have cheap, cheap, cheap taxes,” Belcher said.

Tivis said the 3 percent increases in values wouldn’t change tax bills much, but 20 percent increases for expensive nonresidential properties could.

Tivis said the notices of value must be mailed by April 1, and the printer promised to send them out earlier. She advised property owners to examine the notices and call the Assessor’s Office with any questions or disagreements within 30 days of the mailing date.

After the 30-day period, Belcher said, it becomes almost impossible to change the listed value of the property for this tax year.

Fast facts

Examples of tax payment increases in Portales city limits:

Residential, 3 percent value increase:

• $100,000 house: $26 payment increase

Nonresidential, 20 percent value increase:

• $100,000 property: $176 payment increase

• $500,000 property: $882 payment increase