SANDOVAL COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – The state is about to auction off hundreds of homes and pieces of land because owners did not pay their property taxes.
That’s just a drop in the bucket — there are thousands more waiting to hit the auction block. Neighbors say one property off Tulip and Rainbow in Sandoval County has been vacant for years.
“To the best of my knowledge, it has been like this since 2011 when I moved here,” resident Kellee Byrd said.
“There has been no development or any improvement on the land,” resident Mitch Weaver added.
That may be about to change. It’s one of 161 properties in Sandoval County up for auction later this month. “As long as it’s going to be taken care of…” Weaver said.
This comes after property owners failed to pay taxes on these accounts. “Obviously, if you don’t pay your taxes, you are going to get in trouble,” Weaver said.
Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya said once a property owner fails to pay taxes for more than two years, the county turns the account over to the state. She said in July, the county handed the state a running list of more than 6,800 delinquent properties.
However, they can only auction so many at a time. Most of the properties are undeveloped, and they add up to more than $5 million in unpaid taxes. “Once a property account goes to the state, all the penalty and interest collected will go back to the state, and all the principal tax will go back to the county,” Montoya said.
She said the county gives property owners repeated warnings before handing it over to the state. “It is very important we are collecting on our property tax base because as we collect more, the taxpayers get to pay less,” Montoya said. “The tax rate changes to allow it to go a little lower.”
Some in the area say while they enjoy the mesa views, they would not mind getting some new neighbors. “It is going to affect us and everybody who lives out here,” Weaver said. “It would be nice to see nicer neighborhoods going up.”
All the property up for auction is residential. Montoya said people in Sandoval County have up until auction day, Sep. 24, to pay their taxes and get off the list.
Montoya said the state auctions off property with unpaid taxes in every county each year. Taos County has the most properties up for grabs right now, at 193.