ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Building owners in Bernalillo County with vacant, rundown, and problem properties are being put on notice. The county assessor said he’s turning up the value on those properties with the hope of forcing private owners to actually do something with their land by facing higher taxes.
“You can definitely just even take a tour of the Downtown area and all along 5th Street, 6th Street, Central, of all of the properties—both commercial properties and mixed-use—that are boarded up,” said Bernalillo County Assessor Damian Lara.
It’s a widespread problem Lara wants to help fix. His new approach is revaluing properties, not based on how their characteristics at that moment in time but based on their potential.
“We are coming off of a global pandemic, as well as an affordable housing crisis in the county of Bernalillo, and when we look at these properties, we have made the decision that the best use of those properties is not to sit vacant and boarded up,” said Lara.
If the value of the property goes up, so do the taxes.
“That will incentivize the property owner to do something with that property. Either have it rented out long-term to become an income-producing or sell it to somebody who can use that property either to start up a business or to use it as a residence,” Lara said.
Instead of letting the property sit, Lara said, “This is saying, ‘We need you to put that property back into the market as soon as possible.'”
Under the law, Lara said they can only raise the value of a residential property by 3%. However, if a property is non-residential, vacant, or isn’t producing income, there is no limit to how much the value can be raised.
One dilapidated property on Central went up $110,000 in value from last year using the assessor’s new approach as did another property on Mountain Road.
Lara said they’ve already seen the desired effect of this method pay off with many properties starting to be rehabilitated as a result.
“We didn’t really receive as much pushback as we thought. We’ve actually encountered that a lot of property owners, particularly in the Downtown area, who want to see the Downtown area revitalized and reinfused with businesses and affordable housing actually think this is a good thing,” Lara said.
Matthew Fien Gretton, who lives near a problem property that was recently revalued by Lara’s office, said he sees the pros and cons of this move.
“I think in terms of the overall health of the neighborhood, it’s going to start pricing people that are blue collar, that are hard workers but not making much money, out of the neighborhood, and we’re going to get people coming in from outside. That’s gentrification, but I also don’t really see what the alternative is cause I also don’t want the house to be a magnet for trouble.”
Bottom line, Lara said: “We’re trying to beautify your area, so that you don’t have to walk out your front door and see a boarded up house, vacant lots with trash, and all of those things.”