ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque can put liens on vacant properties that become a problem, but a new report reveals the city has collected less than half of the money it is owed in the last four years. The Albuquerque Planning Department’s Code Enforcement Division can put a lien on properties to pay for weed removal, litter cleanup, or demolition.
A report from the Office of Internal Audit released last week found the city filed 5,422 liens between fiscal year 2015 through 2019. Of $2.9 million, Code Enforcement only collected $1.3 million by the end of last year. The audit recommended establishing better policies and procedures to improve how the department tracks and collects money associated with property liens.
“I certainly think that we can make improvements on our efforts to ensure that more tax dollars are more quickly collected,” said Planning Dept. Director Brennon Williams. He said the department took a vacancy and created a new position dedicated to collections. He added that they can also better keep track of when payments are due and interest on late payments thanks to a technology upgrade. “We’re modifying that case tracking system to help us track and remind us after 30 days, after 45 days, after 60 days to take it to that next level.”
Of course, Williams said, there is some inherent difficulty in the collections process. It often means trying to collect money from property owners who either cannot be, or do not want to be, found.
The mayor and city council suggested the audit. The complete report is available on the city’s website.
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