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Pop Quiz

April 23, 2008, 12:00 am
By
Democratic SF County Treasurer candidates face off

For the June 3 New Mexico primary elections, SFR will call up candidates in CONTESTED races to test their knowledge. The rules for Pop Quiz are as follows:
No research allowed and if they call back later with the right answer, too bad.

To see who answered correctly (or came closest), check out our answer key below.


                                        QUESTIONS                                             

1. How many property tax bills are sent out annually?

2. Approximately how much money does the Santa Fe County Treasurer's Office invest annually?

3. How do county residents determine their property taxes?

4. Give an example of an investment the treasurer's office makes with surplus money.

5. Where is the treasurer's office's vault located?

6. In Fiscal Year 2007, the treasurer's office spent $265 on Winter Sparkle holiday cards.

As treasurer, what kind of freebies would you offer constituents and employees?

7. What's the wealthiest county in New Mexico?

                                         ANSWERS                                              

***image1***
Victor Montoya, Santa Fe County Treasurer (incumbent), 65

1. Well there's a two-part answer to that. We have approximately 80,000 accounts. But only between 50 and 60,000 get mailed out. The other 20,000 are paid by mortgage companies or taxpaying services.

2. Well, since I've been here it's been going up every year. To start with, I resurrected the investment policy here at the county and brought it up to date and got it approved by the County Commission in late 2004. And then starting in January of 2005 I began to actively do more investing. And primarily…do you want an amount? The latest count has been about $184 million.

3. You just want the factor to apply to the residential? Let me pull it out of my file here. [Disappears. Background noise.] I don't have those memorized in my head but I can tell you off of my sheet. City residential is 0.018608 and you multiply that times the one-third of the assessed valuation that you get from the assessor.

4. Sure. Well, first of all, any investments I make have to be safe and liquid and generally short term. I have a laundry list of what I can invest in that's been approved by the County Commission. Typically those investments are government agencies, which include Fannie Mae bonds, Freddie Mac bonds, federal home loans, bank loans. I can also invest in Farmer Mac bonds. Other items I can invest in are treasury bills, including treasury notes. I can invest in CDs, which I invest a lot in. I invest in Los Alamos National Bank. I have CDs that are in excess of $100,000, and those are collateralized at 102 percent by letters of credit issued by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas.

5. The vault? It's right here in my office.

6. Freebies? I don't offer them anything. I spent $265 on greeting cards, but I don't send them to constituents, I send them primarily to businesses we do business with. Title companies, escrow companies, taxpaying services, mortgage companies. I send them to other businesses. But not individuals.

7. I would venture to say the wealthiest, primarily because of the amount of federal dollars they get, is Los Alamos County. Next to that is probably Bernalillo and following that is us.



***image2***
Robert Rubin, senior title examiner with the State of New Mexico Property Tax Division (currently on leave), 48

1. I would say it's over 60,000. I'm not sure because as you know I'm not hands-on in that office.

2. I would say it's close to or over $100 million.

3. Well the equation is set by DFA. If your taxable value is $30,000 and the equation for that particular area, it's different for different areas of town. Even residential. I'm residential in the county. Let's say you have residential in the city-you're paying a higher percentage than I am in the county. So in other words you're paying $19 per thousand. I'm just throwing a number out there. It may be lower; it may be higher.

4. See, I used to work in the county treasurer's office many years ago. That's where I started my career. I have eight-plus years with the treasurer and the last 18 with the State of New Mexico dealing with property taxes. The investment pool was created right around the time of my departure. That's an investment pool set up by the State of New Mexico where each county can send their money and they invest it for them. They invest with local banks, and lately here-as of late, I've been gone from that office for a while- they've been floating the money, which is kind of risky. So I'm sure if they're doing any of that, it wouldn't involve much risk.

5. I don't know because they relocated offices after I moved.

6. Yeah. If I'm going to do something for my workers, with tax money, I wouldn't go there. If I'm going to do something special, it will come out of my own pocket.

7. I'd have to say San Juan County's one of the wealthiest because of the oil. In terms of population, Bernalillo, but for its size of county, I'd say San Juan is pretty up there.



ANSWER KEY:

1. Approximately 65,000 property tax bills are sent out by the Santa Fe County Treasurer's Office annually.

2. According to the Santa Fe County Treasurer's Portfolio report, as of March 31, 2008, the total investment amount was approximately $177 million.

3. Both answers are right. The city residential tax rate is 0.018608 (which, to figure out your property tax, should be multiplied by one-third the assessed value of your home), though the rate varies between city and county. Factoid: Agricultural land in the county is taxed according to what kind of animals are on the farm. There are separate tax rates for bison and sheep. Who knew?

4. The Santa Fe County investment policy dictates that the treasurer can (and does) invest in CDs, bonds, treasury bills and other government-backed debt securities.

5. If the current treasurer says the vault's in his office, we gotta take his word for it.

6. There is no pre-determined answer to this question.

7. Los Alamos County is the state's wealthiest county by a wide margin. The median household incomes for the following counties, according to the 2004 Census, are as follows: San Juan ($36,821), Santa Fe ($43,727), Los Alamos ($94,640).

 

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