Overdue taxes prompt officials to seek auction by state

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Quay County is owed more than $535,000 in back taxes over a five-year period, from 2000 to 2005, county records show.

While more than half of that sum is expected to be paid by year’s end, there is still a significant amount, more than $68,000 which is due the county, said Quay County treasurer Nadine Angel.

“It’s money that could be in the general fund,” said Quay County Manager Terry Turner.

In 2005, the county collected more than $2.8 million from property, livestock and other taxes. “That’s about 92 percent collected,” said Angel.

Monies collected by Quay County are distributed, based on respective millage rates and state and local guidelines, to the state for debt service, to Tucumcari, House, Grady, Logan, San Jon, Melrose, the Arch Hurley Conservancy Board and other groups.

For several years, the county has expected representatives from the state’s Property Tax Division to come to Tucumcari to conduct an auction of properties for delinquent taxes, said Turner.

Angel said the county has turned over its delinquent tax records for the years 2000 through 2003, and on July 1, it will turn its delinquent property list for the year 2003.
But for nearly three years, on delinquent properties from 2000-2002,t here has not been an auction.

Angel said it is her understanding that the Santa Fe office is backlogged and does not have enough staff.

Meanwhile, a scheduled auction for Quay County in April was canceled by the state agency, Angel and Turner said.
In an effort to get more action from the agency, Quay County Commissioners and Turner agreed on Monday to write the agency to see if that would prompt a faster response and a new auction schedule.

“I think they are behind in a lot of counties, but ours is really behind,” Angel said.

Tim Eichenberg, director of the state’s Property Tax Division, said someone would probably be in Quay County by mid-July. “We only have nine staff in the field. All 33 counties are a priority. It’s a rotation process. We do the best we can with the staff we have.”

The deadline of a pending auction is all it takes for some property owners to dig deeper and come up the back taxes, Turner said.

Property owners get “plenty of advance notice and the state will take hardship into consideration,” Angel said.

Eichenberg said, “The last resort is auctioning off property. The last county that we did there were 130 properties, and only four went to auction.”

Every attempt is made to find and work with property owners, including offering them a payment plan, Eichenberg said.

Since she became treasurer in 2001, only two properties in Quay County were auctioned off in 2001 in the County Commissioners Chambers and in 2002, there may have been just one property auctioned off, Angel said.

“But it is money owed and it needs to be collected,” she said.