New Mexico's primary elections are just around the corner, and the office of Santa Fe County Treasurer is one of the many local races on the ballot this year. Three people are facing in the Democratic primary in a race where no contenders from other major parties have qualified for the ballot in the general election.

If you haven't requested your absentee ballot yet, you have until May 28 to do so. In the meantime, we've quizzed the candidates to help you decide which to choose. As always, all the candidates agreed to answer these questions based only on their own knowledge, without assistance from phones, friends, family, laptops, scribbled notes on the backs of their hands, newspaper clippings—you get the point. It's a test of what they know about the office they are seeking. Here's how they did:

Questions:

  1. The county receives approximately what percent of property taxes collected?
  2. What are permissible investments of county funds according to the Santa Fe County Investment Policy?
  3. Name the statutory beneficiaries who receive disbursements from the office.
  4. What is the definition of a fiduciary and what is the relationship to the county?
  5. What is the difference between the operational mill rate and the debt service mill rate?

Answers:

  1. The county receives around 40% of property taxes collected. About 40% are split up between area public schools and the Santa Fe Community College, Edgewood Soil and Water District, and the Eldorado Water and Sanitation District. About 20% go towards the County’s Debt Service; the State’s Debt Service; the Rancho Viejo Special District; and the Children’s Trust.
  2. US agencies, fixed income, government money markets, certificates of deposits, supranationals and municipal bonds are examples of permissible investments.
  3. Taxes collected by the treasurer are distributed to the statutory beneficiaries of the county which include Santa Fe Public Schools, Pojoaque Public Schools, Española Public Schools, Moriarty Public Schools, Santa Fe Community College, Edgewood Soil and Water District, and the Eldorado Water and Sanitation District.
  4. The treasurer is the county’s fiduciary and is responsible for overseeing county investments and finances. The Santa Fe County Investment Policy says: “A fiduciary relationship is generally viewed as the highest standard of customer care available under law. Fiduciary duty includes both a duty of care and a duty of loyalty. Collectively, and generally speaking, these duties require a fiduciary to act in the best interest of the customer, and to provide full and fair disclosure of material facts and conflicts of interest.”
  5. According to a county flyer about taxes, “the debt service mill rate is determined based upon the amount of debt payments the County must make during the coming year. …The operational mill funds a variety of County services including those provided by Elected Officials, the County Manager and Legal Offices, Land Use, Public Works, Senior Programs and other community services. It also funds administrative services such as Finance, HR, IT and Purchasing”

Jennifer Manzanares

Jennifer Manzanares is the current chief deputy treasurer for Santa Fe County. In 2004, she ran for a position on the Pojoaque Valley school board.

  1. 29%.
  2. One that is current has been approved through the state Legislature is House Bill 120 and its for purposeful investment in supranationals, we’ve also invested in other agencies like the Farm Credit Bureau.
  3. So the statutory beneficiaries were the local schools and the charter schools, so that would include Santa Fe Public School District, Pojoaque Valley School District, and it includes higher education like the Santa Fe Community College.
  4. Okay, so the responsibility of a fiduciary is to do the financial planning for the county and currently we have a investment committee comprised of the leadership from the county to include the county manager and commissioners on making prudent decisions pertaining to the investments of the county.
  5. The operational mill rate is what the county uses to meet the daily obligations. And the debt service mill rate would be debt the county owes to various agencies outside of the county.

Lucinda G Marker

Lucinda G Marker has spent her career working in the real estate and investment industries.

  1. 97%. Oh wait I’m sorry, the county receives what percentage of total property taxes collected, that’s the question right? Um… let me think. 40%. I misunderstood the question initially. 40% is my answer.
  2. All of them? Okay, um.. Government, treasury securities, exchange traded funds, certificates of deposit, supra naturals.
  3. Okay, I think what you’re asking is like, the Santa Fe Public Schools, Pojoaque Schools, Española Schools, Moriarty school, Santa Fe Community College, Edgewood Soil and Water, and Eldorado Water.
  4. A fiduciary needs to act ethically on behalf of someone’s interest and so a fiduciary to the county would be bound to be responsible for managing the finances or a financial fiduciary would be responsible for managing the county’s finances ethically and in the county’s best interests.
  5. Well the debt service mill rate is whatever is required by whatever, I’m sorry are you looking for the definition or the actual numbers? Okay, so the mill rate, the amount of tax that would be used to service the debt would be the debt mill rate. The operational mill rate would be the tax payable towards the operations of the county I believe.

Robert Rubin

Robert Rubin is a property tax consultant who used to work for the county decades ago. He has run for the position of County Treasurer several times in the past.

  1. On the annual basis pretty much, when I worked there around 97% to 98% of the current taxes, okay, and they have a bill there that they go as to how much taxes were collected for 2019, 2018, 2017, they go back 10 years and each one has a percentage of taxes collected.
  2. Permissible investments, well um it’s gotten to the point where back in the day when I worked at the county, back in 1980, it was the treasurer’s function to do it and as the accountant for the county treasurer I was in charge of making those decisions with her approval. Since then they have an advisory committee so it’s not just the treasurer, there are checks and balances that need to be done before any investment is done. …Revenue that comes into the county primarily goes into investments. Property taxes of course, when you collect property taxes the majority of the taxes go to fund schools, so whatever is left, that’s what the county investment council as well as the treasurer can use for investments.
  3. I’m not sure what you’re getting at but I believe what you’re trying to say is the county does have responsibilities and is the primary custodian of all funds coming into the county. And second some of those funds go out like the school benefits from the county. Any debt that the county has that needs to be paid off, that’s all required by law. As far as the statute to let you do that, I don’t know it by memory but I know that there’s one that allows the county, or its a function in that respect.
  4. Did you say judiciary? Define judiciary. What was that? Okay um, I’m not sure how to answer that so I won’t attempt to answer because I don’t follow you.
  5. Operational is what the county runs on, and the debt rate is what I believe what the county is in debt for and that’s what I think it is. Again you’re asking for operational and indebtedness? Is that what the question was? Well that’s a good question. Operational is what the county charges to operate its resources like for the schools and stuff like that and there the debt is what the county looks at like what they owe, and it requires a percentage of that to be paid off with every tax payment.