Socorro County Property Tax increases by $8 million.  County appraisers in Socorro County have seen an increase in property tax petitions this year, with many restaurants and hotels pitching for reductions because of their lower-income due to COVID-19.

In 2020, during a large reappraisal period, Socorro County valuations totals reached $232 million with $3.2 being protested for revaluation. Still, $228 million is unprotested, an amount that increased by $8 million from 2019. It is important for property owners to know their rights when it comes to the property tax valuation process.

There are many elements that go into an increased or decreased property tax amount year-to-year. Market value is the price at which a property would transfer for cash or its equivalent under prevailing market conditions. The three common approaches that are most used in both appraisals and petitions are sales comparisons, income-based, and cost-based.

Many types of exemptions exist to help property owners. There are exemptions for veterans and disabled veterans, age 65 or older or disabled person exemptions, exemptions for houses powered by solar or wind-powered energy devices, head of household exemptions exist for the primary owners of a property, as well as other exemptions such as a property value freeze for people making less than $35,000.

Property owners are entitled and encouraged to petition their valuations. According to County Assessor Julie Griego, property owners’ arguments for reductions help keep the system honest and ensure the people that they are not against them.

Appraisers and property owners do not always have a companionable relationship. In the system’s current state, appraisers will valuate properties on the scene by going to properties in-person to keep a record of the conditions of the land and property itself. This is because improvements to properties, such as a new garage or porch, often are not licensed and go unreported to the county assessor’s office. Taxable property includes land and commercial properties, often referred to as real property or real estate, and fixed assets owned by businesses often referred to as personal property. However, this need for in-person assessment of properties can sometimes put assessors at risk.

Assessors are legally allowed to go onto any property unless there is a no trespassing sign or a locked gate. When traveling to a property in an isolated area, assessors will travel in pairs to ensure safety, and they are instructed to avoid properties with dogs.

“They go out there and you’ve got people that are going to run them off the property. They’ll threaten to shoot them. People don’t want you on their property,” said Griego. Because of these risks, Griego hopes that these in-person assessments will become unnecessary soon, with the efficient help of drone technology able to capture high-quality images of properties.

Ultimately, county appraisers and property owners are on the same team and appraisers are just doing their part to maintain a uniform and trustworthy system for taxation purposes. County taxes help fund city and county projects, supply capital for local water sources, finance hospitals, and improve state and local school districts.