FOR THE RECORD: This story incorrectly stated that the settlement of a lawsuit filed by residents of the Mariposa community in Rio Rancho dismissed the claims against High Desert Investment Corp. It dismissed claims against the city and the Public Improvement District, but not those against High Desert.
Residents’ bills will be lower than many feared
Copyright © 2013 Albuquerque Journal
Residents of Mariposa in far north Rio Rancho can breathe easier knowing their tax bills will be hundreds of dollars less than they feared.
A lawsuit settlement and resolution approved on Wednesday by the Mariposa Public Improvement District Board allows bond debt associated with the community to be restructured, lowering PID taxes.
“I think we’ll finally be free to move on and our property values will go up,” said Mariposa resident Martha Greenleaf.
She was one of about 75 Mariposa residents who attended the meeting in Rio Rancho City Hall.
Greenleaf estimates her annual PID payments will drop from $1,300 to less than $1,000 under the restructuring deal.
Mariposa developer High Desert Investment Corp. issued $16 million in bonds in 2006 using the PID process, which allows a developer to sell bonds backed by payments from property owners to pay for community infrastructure. High Desert was helping to cover bond payments but pulled out of the development last year, leaving property owners to shoulder the full bond debt.
A group of Mariposa property owners then sued High Desert, its officers and owner Albuquerque Academy, the PID board and the city of Rio Rancho, which approved the PID, claiming High Desert deliberately misled them about the potential amount of the PID payments.
In April, a lawyer representing the bondholders proposed a restructuring deal that would lower the PID payments, but said it couldn’t move forward unless some of the lawsuit claims were dropped.
Under the settlement, the 25 plaintiffs in the lawsuit agreed to dismiss all claims against the PID and the city, with prejudice, meaning they can’t be refiled, said Peter Franklin, the PID board attorney.
The resolution established maximum annual PID payments for Mariposa properties. That replaces the current system that was based on the assessed tax value of the property.
Maximum annual PID payments will be $1,200 compared with the possibility of thousands of dollars for high-value homes, if the restructuring deal didn’t go through.
It also allows homeowners to pay off the full amount upfront, which wasn’t possible up to now.
“This is far better than I could expect,” said Mariposa resident John Knipps.
He estimates he could save thousands of dollars in interest by paying upfront.