Property taxes will increase for many Valencia County property owners, but there is still a question of by how much and for who exactly.
Two local agencies have approved increases, which will hit property owners in the southern part of the county, while $8 million in general obligation bonds will go out to all Valencia County voters in November.
The new mill levies imposed by the city of Rio Communities and Belen Consolidated Schools — totalling 5.5 mills — will most heavily impact residential property owners in the city and are a done deal.
The general obligation bonds the Valencia County Commission are putting out for public vote are a bit of an unknown since a property tax increase will hinge on how many of the four GO bond questions pass and what the total dollar amount of the bond sales will be.
Belen Consolidated Schools
In a re-do of its July 11 vote, the Belen Board of Education approved a 2 mill tax levy on all properties within the district boundaries for a program called Ed Tech Notes, which will fund technology improvements throughout the school district.
The new mill will be imposed on properties throughout the Belen Consolidated Schools district, which includes southern Valencia County and part of northern Socorro County.
The new tax will generate about $1.2 million a year, adding about $66 to the tax bill of a property with a market value of $100,000.
The new taxes for Rio Communities and BCS will appear on property owner’s 2022 tax bills, the first half of which is due in December 2022, with the second half due in May 2023.
To estimate how much property taxes will increase, property owners should start with their current property value, then divide that by three. Properties are taxed on one-third of their valuation.
For instance, a home in Rio Communities worth $190,000 would be taxed on $63,333.
Multiply the taxable value by .000550, which is the total 5.5 mills a residential property in Rio Communities will be subject to when the increases from the city and the school district are combined.
The taxes on a $190,000 residential property will increase by about $348 a year. Remember to move the decimal point one place to the right after the calculations to get the correct yearly estimate.
City of Rio Communities
At its Monday, July 25, meeting, the Rio Communities city council passed a new 3.5 mill levy, which is only being imposed on residential property owners.
The tax will bring in about $273,348 a year more to help pay for the new police department.
Currently, residential property owners in Rio Communities are paying a 2.75 mill levy. With the new 3.5 mill, they will now pay a total of 6.25 mills.
The average residential property owner, with a home worth $158,000 and an assessed value of $52,667, will now pay about $184.30 more a year in property taxes, or $15.36 more a month.
On the higher side, a Rio Communities property owner who owns a $600,000 house will pay about $30 more a month in taxes, an additional $360 a year.
Valencia County GO bonds
Valencia County commissioners are also asking property owners throughout the county to possibly ante up more in taxes to improve various facilities and roads.
In a unanimous vote, the commissioners approved the placement of four general obligation bond questions totalling $8 million on the November General Election ballot.
The four bond questions are $1 million for sheriff and fire department facilities, $4 million for county roads, $1.5 million for parks and recreation facilities and $1.5 million for community and senior centers.
Voters will be able to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for each individual bond question, meaning any number of them may be approved.
The last time the county held a general obligation bond election was in the summer of 2018. Voters were asked to continue a .87 mill property tax to support the sale of $7 million in general obligation bonds. Ultimately, voters approved a $5.1 million bond for construction and repair of roads, as well as road equipment.
They rejected $1.9 million for public buildings and environmental monitoring on the county’s closed landfill on Belen’s west side.
To prevent a tax increase, the county split the approved $5.1 million into two separate bond sales of $2.55 million in 2019 and 2020.
At the commission meeting last week, county finance director Loretta Trujillo told commissioners at this time, if an individual bond sale is less than $6.5 million tax rates won’t increase due to the additional debt service, but if all $8 million is approved and there is one bond sale for the total amount in 2023, there will be an increase for property owners.
Trujillo said the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration will provide a formula based on factors such as total property valuations for the county and tax collection rates to calculate the rate increase.
(Editor’s note: Editor Clara Garcia contributed to this report.)
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.