The office of County Assessor is prescribed by law in 4-39-2 through 4-39-6 NMSA.
The duties of Assessor are primarily set forth in Articles 35 through 38 of chapter 7 of the NMSA, referred to as the “Property Tax Code”.
In general, the office of the Cibola County Assessor is statutorily and independently responsible for valuing all real property, manufactured homes, business personal property, and livestock. Additionally the office is responsible for the generation of a fair and equitable tax schedule to be used by other entities to levy and collect a tax based on the value of property on that tax roll. The tax roll must be in compliance with the Property Tax Code, its rules and regulations and also the professional standards of the International Association of Assessing Officers.
The County Assessor also has a duty to ensure that all taxable properties that are valued by the State Assessed Bureau of the Taxation and Revenue Department such as railroads, utilities, and mineral properties are also comprehensively, fairly and equitably included in the tax roll yearly to ensure the lowest possible tax rate for all property taxpayers.
The New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department, Property Tax Division (PTD) is the only entity who has general supervisory authority over county assessors for purposes of implementation and compliance with the New Mexico Property Tax Code, regulations, orders, rulings and instructions of the department. The NM PTD conducts and provides and annual evaluation and feedback regarding the assessor’s valuation activities. For budget purposes, to aid the BOCC in determining whether the assessor is operating an efficient program, the assessor must submit a written report accompanying annual budget requests, which sets forth all the activities associated with maintenance procedures (7-36-16).
The Assessor has two budget sources that fund their operation. First is the General Fund (#101) which is directly funded from county revenues. In Addition, assessors have a “1% Re-Valuation Fund” (#203). In essence, all entities that collect a property tax levy help share the cost of re-appraisal and assessment of parcels within their jurisdiction by contributing 1% of their property tax revenue to this fund, with the exception of any higher education entities.
In order to maintain statutory compliance, the Assessor must obtain approval from the County Commission for the necessary budget and other resources needed to determine a comprehensive, fair and equitable tax roll while ensuring accountable and efficient use of resources. These budgets should also include adequate resources to promote, motivate, and generate a professional staff by encouraging and allowing for their participation and attendance at professional education classes, conferences and meetings and assist them in acquiring professional designations that will help render professional appraisals and the ability to defend those values as a professional and expert witness in a court of law.
Assessors are the only county office that can protest the budget that is set by BOCC. The department of finance and administration shall not approve the operating budget of any county in which there is not an adequate allocation of funds to the county assessor, for the purpose of fulfilling the responsibilities for property valuation maintenance.
Professional and Public Interaction
The Office of the Cibola County Assessor must also interact with and professionally address all inquiries from the public, attorneys, government agencies, legislature and news media and ensure that all correct information not bound by the confidentiality statute is available to the public.
Mapping and Ownership Data
A vital function of the office is a requirement to track all property ownership data that is filed through the County Clerk’s Office. Deeds and other real estate documents must be reviewed and processed so that we maintain a current and accurate ownership record of every parcel of land within our county. In addition, we must map all parcels of real property within the county, this includes all parcels that have been split or combined.
Valuation of Property
The primary function of the office of the Assessor is to determine values of property for property taxation purposes in accordance with the Property Tax Code and the regulations, orders, rulings and instructions of the department, except as limited in Section 7-36-21.2 NMSA 1978, known as the limitation on increases in valuation, or “value cap law”. The Assessor also has the sole responsibility and authority at the county level for property valuation maintenance that is subject only to the general supervisory powers of the New Mexico Property Tax Director.
The value of property for property taxation purposes shall be market value as determined by application of the sales of comparable property, income or cost methods of valuation or any combination of these methods unless an exception or special method of valuation is authorized in statute. In using any of the methods of valuation authorized, the Assessor’s staff applies generally accepted appraisal techniques and methodology.
Re-Appraisal of Taxable Property
All residential, commercial, vacant land, business personal property, mobile home, exempt properties and the special method of value for agricultural properties must be re-appraised and statistically reviewed yearly and inspected every five years in accordance with professional standards, directives of the Taxation and Revenue Department and the Property Tax Code.
Notices of Value
Assessors are mandated to mail all notices of net taxable value of the property to all property owners by April 1st of each tax year (§ 7-38-20 NMSA), unless an extension has been granted by the NM Property Tax Director. A significant amount of expense is associated with this requirement. This notice apprises the property owner of the valuation that is determined by the Assessor for property tax purposes. It also affords the property owner the right to “protest” the valuation, and file for taxpayer benefits such as exemptions.
Certifying Net Taxable Values
The Assessor shall certify to the PTD the net taxable values for all property allocated to governmental units in the county and subject to property taxation by June 15th of each tax year. The assessor's certification includes a statement of all property valuations that are the subject of a pending protest, whether protested locally or to the department, and a statement of the uncontroverted valuation in the pending protests. This process is done on a spreadsheet and called “Certification of Values”.
Valuation Protests by Taxpayers
Several valuation protests are filed each year with our office and constitute the majority of the workload by our staff for the calendar year. Protests are typically filed in the month of April of each year. Last year, in 2018, our office processed approximately 285 protests. The total is comprised of 135 non-residential accounts, and 150 residential accounts. Last year protests were resolved between April 1 and the end of October.
Protests filed by the taxpayer or their agent as well as Claim for Refunds filed in District Court, must be addressed effectively and professionally by staff by defending and preserving the integrity of the tax roll in compliance with the Property Tax Code.
Preparation of Property Tax Schedule
After receipt of the rate-setting order and the order imposing the tax, but no later than October 1st of each tax year, the County Assessor is mandated to prepare and deliver a property tax schedule to the County Treasurer all property subject to property taxation in the county. This schedule is provided electronically to the County Treasurer.
In order to accurately and professionally accomplish the mandated duties of the office, the Assessor must employ educated and experienced individuals and provide continuous training and continuing education in the field of real and personal property appraisal. Having well trained and professional individuals in other facets of the duties of the office is equally important and essential to our office.
Under NMSA 4-39-2, the issuance of certificates and incentive pay is authorized upon completion of a series of four one week long courses taught by our professional organization called the International Association of Assessing Officers. An Assessor, Deputy Assessor or appraiser can earn the designation of “Certified Property Appraiser” issued by New Mexico Property Tax Division. Recently, a continuing education program was self-imposed by the Assessor’s Affiliate and endorsed by PTD.
The Assessor is the sole county elected official who may receive additional compensation above the statutory amount for the successful completion of certain appraisal courses offered by IAAO and approved by the Property Tax Division per 4-39-4 NMSA.
Additionally, The NM EDGE County College, in collaboration with the NM Assessors Affiliate has developed a certification curriculum specific to the NM County Assessor office for a NM Certified Public Assessing Official” designation. Additional nationally recognized designations are also available through our membership in the IAAO. Several of our appraisers are currently working towards one of these designations. The Assessor’s goal is to re-classify the appraiser’s position and compensate them accordingly once the designation is attained.
Calendar of Assessor’s Critical Dates
January 1: Known as “situs date”- Date which determines the taxable status of all property in the state of New Mexico. If property is destroyed or improved during the year, any resulting increase or decrease will not be reflected until January 1 of the next year.
February, Last Day of: By the last day of this month, all new improvements, decreases in value, mobile homes, livestock, and claims for any applicable exemptions must be made. This is a reporting period that begins January 1st and ends on the last day of February.
April 1: On or before April 1st, county assessors must mail notices of value to property owners.
June 15: County assessors certify total net taxable values in the county to the Property Tax Division. After this date, valuation changes become increasing difficult and will generally require a court order.
June 30: The Division compiles all values certified by all counties and forwards them to the Department and Finance for its use in making budgets and setting tax rates.
September 1: New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration sets the tax rates and delivers to the BOCC. The BOCC certifies the tax rates.
October 1: By this date, the county assessor prepares the property tax schedule (tax roll) for the county and delivers it to the county treasurer for billing. The tax roll lists every property its description, owner, address, value for property tax purposes, classification, exemptions allowed, applicable tax rates and tax amount.
This calendar provides general information and does not encompass all of the County Assessor’s duties. Notice there is no particular time set-aside for the assessor to value properties. Detailed information or corresponding statutes and regulations can be obtained at the county assessor’s office.
ASSESSOR’S YEARLY REQUIREMENTS AND GOALS
1. Prepare and mail Notices of Value to all real property, business personal property, livestock, and mobile homes owners by April 1 of each year.
2. Mail the request for information to all business personal property accounts by December 15 of each year for the following tax year.
3. Process and enter all business personal property renditions by March 5th of each tax year.
4. Mail the updated annual Value Freeze applications received from PTD to possible qualified property owners within 15 days of receipt and by March 1 of each year.
5. Post all incoming correspondence, protests, affidavits, building permits, within 24 hours.
6. Follow up on all incoming communication and insure timely and proper disposition of the issue within 30 days of receipt of the issue. Use the “Action Form” to initiate the process.
7. Process all deeds and changes in ownership and mapping of all properties within 10 days of their receipt from the Clerk’s Office.
8. Process (complete all field work & data entry) all building permits received by December 31 by last day in January of the following year.
9. Process all affidavits received by December 31 by the last day in January of the following year.
10. Process and complete all protests filed each tax year within 180 days of the date of mailing the official notice of value and by ideally by August 15 each year.
11. Process and address all claims for refunds generated by tax bills within 60 days of receipt from District Court or by December 31 of each year unless they are subject to District Court action.
12. Process all property owner inquiries in person, phone, letter or e-mail within 30 days of receipt. Initiate using the “Action Form”.
13. Scan all incoming correspondence by mail and in person within 5 days of receipt.
14. Process and document the steps taken to process all property found to be omitted from the tax roll and forward the documents to the County Treasurer within 30 days of discovery. Initiate using the “Action Form”.
15. Plan and prepare for a re-appraisal at minimum of every five years in conformance with the professional standards of the International Association of Assessing Officers and the Property Tax Code and its related Rules and Regulations to be completed every five years hence forth.
16. Deliver tax schedule/ roll to County Treasurer by statutory deadline of October 1 of each year.
For a comprehensive list of yearly duties and requirements refer to the “2019 valuation maintenance program” available at the Assessor’s Office upon request.