New county mobile home law proposed

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Unpaid taxes the focus

By Mercy Lopez

San Miguel County is losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes owed on mobile homes, and two elected officials are asking the Commission to approve a new ordinance to rectify the problem.

The county Treasurer’s Office is still sifting through records trying to figure out exactly how much is owed in back taxes on mobile homes, but Deputy Treasurer Arturo Marlow said that as of Thursday morning they had determined that about $230,000 was owed in one district alone.

“When budgets are tight, every penny counts,” Marlow said.

Realizing the magnitude of the problem, County Treasurer Bertha Bustamante and Assessor Elaine Estrada approached County Manager Les Montoya asking that the Commission consider approving an ordinance to try to force mobile home owners to pay their taxes.

The Commission approved a resolution Tuesday moving forward with the proposal and announcing that the commission would be deciding whether to approve the ordinance at its July meeting. The proposed ordinance would require anyone moving a mobile home to obtain a permit from the county. The permit would cost $20, and in order to obtain the permit, all taxes would have to be paid on the mobile home.

That’s significant because part of the problem the county is facing is owners relocating their mobile homes without paying outstanding property taxes and without notifying the assessor and treasurer. Estrada told the Commission that once the mobile homes are moved out of the county, there’s not much the county can do to force the owners to pay up.

The proposed ordinance would impose a $300 fine on anyone moving a mobile home without a permit. The fine would be assessed to the company or individual transporting the mobile home.

Estrada said the $20 fee would be used to offset the cost associated with issuing a permit.

She said that once the Commission adopts the ordinance, she plans to advertise it and to reach out to the sheriff, state police, the state Department of Transportation and companies that move mobile homes to inform them of the new requirement.

Bustamante told the Commission she has Marlow working on figuring out exactly how much in outstanding taxes this will involve, but she told commissioners that based on the research done so far, it’s a significant amount.