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Vote no: ABQ’s property taxes are out of control

If you haven’t bought or sold a home lately you may not grasp the magnitude of Albuquerque’s property tax burden. Nobody wants to talk about it, and the numbers aren’t easy to find. But here are five things you really should know before you vote on APS’ proposed tax increase.

The Albuquerque area already has the highest property taxes in the state.

We are number one – and number two. Residential properties in the North Valley within the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District are taxed at nearly twice the rate of homes in Santa Fe. Homeowners pay 47.667 mills in the North Valley and 42.598 mills or more in the rest of Albuquerque. In Santa Fe homes are taxed at just 24.583 mills; in Las Cruces, 31.315 mills; in Rio Rancho, 35.38 mills and in the South Valley, 36.438 mills.

High property taxes are taking big money out of your pocket.

Affordability is the No. 1 reason Rio Rancho’s growth continues to outpace Albuquerque’s. Our residential property taxes are 20 percent higher than Rio Rancho’s, and in the North Valley they’re nearly 35 percent higher. The dollar difference between paying 47-plus mills on a $275,000 home in the North Valley and 35-plus mills on one of the same value in Rio Rancho is about $1,126 a year. Worse yet, if you bought a $275,000 home in Santa Fe instead of the North Valley you could save roughly $2,114 a year in property taxes – and have an extra $176 to spend every month.

Even now, Albuquerque’s school mill levy is almost the highest in the state.

School mill levies in New Mexico’s 10 largest cities range from 7.42 to 10.81 mills. Rio Rancho is at the top, which is no surprise because mill levies are mostly for bricks-and-mortar, and it’s growing. APS is next, at 10.473 mills, and asking for almost a 20 percent increase. At 12.473 mills Albuquerque would also have highest school taxes in the state, topping Rio Rancho by 1.7 mills, Las Cruces by 2.5 mills and Santa Fe by 3.1 mills.

APS will continue to take a sizable bite out of your property tax bill, regardless.

The city of Albuquerque and APS – at 11.229 mills and 10.473 mills, respectively – are currently the two biggest items on our tax bills. Increasing APS to 12.473 mills would make it our single largest property tax expense, comprising 28 percent of city property taxes, one-quarter of the North Valley’s and nearly one-third of the South Valley’s. Even now, APS receives one-quarter of Albuquerque homeowners’ property taxes, 22 percent of the North Valley’s and 29 percent of the South Valley’s – and the amount it gets increases every year by about 3 percent, just as your tax(able valuation does).

An extra 2 mills for APS plus a 3 percent valuation increase would result in property tax increases of more than 7 percent next year.

New Mexico has a 3 percent cap on home valuation increases unless they’ve been improved or sold, and when your assessed value goes up 3 percent so do your property taxes. But when voters approve a mill levy, they’re agreeing to pay a higher tax rate on their property’s assessed value – and there’s no cap on what an increased mill levy can add. In the city of Albuquerque 2 mills are 4.7 percent of the total mill levy, in the North Valley, 4.2 percent and in the South Valley, 5.5 percent. So if the mill levy passes and we receive our usual 3 percent valuation increase, Albuquerque homeowners are looking at 7.2 percent to 8.5 percent property tax increases next year.

We’re like frogs in a pot of water that’s been warmed so gradually we don’t realize we’re being boiled to death. Two mills here, a half mill there, and now we’re paying higher property taxes than anyone else one in the state – and 73 percent to 94 percent more than Santa Fe. That’s just crazy.

Come on folks. Enough is enough. Vote NO on the APS 2 mill increase.

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