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Areas Will Continue To Pay For ESCAFCA

Residents of Placitas and parts of Algodones will continue to pay property taxes to support the local flood control authority even though they no longer belong to the district and won’t get any flood protection for their money.

Based on property tax bills for 2010, residents will end up paying hundreds of dollars to support Eastern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority while reaping no benefits. That made at least one Placitas resident very unhappy.

“We got screwed,” said Placitas resident Mike Neas, in an e-mail.

Others, like Placitas Realtor Lynn Koch, believe it saves money for residents of the community in the long run.

Legislation passed this year that removed Placitas from the flood authority requires Placitas residents to continue paying property tax for ESCAFCA operational costs only for 2011. The obligation to cover ESCAFCA debt will end when $6 million in bond funding is paid off, the law says.

“It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s better than nothing,” Koch said on Friday.

Neas and Koch and others argued strongly against Placitas being part of ESCAFCA. They said the foothills community didn’t have drainage problems and shouldn’t have to subsidize flood control efforts in the other district communities of Bernalillo and Algodones.

Intense negotiations between legislators, some Sandoval County commissioners and flood control board members who wanted to keep the district whole and people who wanted out, produced a bill that removed areas east of Interstate 25 from ESCAFCA. The town of Bernalillo and the part of Algodones west of the freeway remain in the district.

The legislation sponsored by Rep. Jim Smith, R-Sandia Park, took effect May 1.

Flood authority board chairman Sal Reyes said that ESCAFCA will now wrap up a Placitas project that identified flood-prone areas, and another project that could remove hundreds of Placitas homes from a FEMA flood map that obligates them to carry flood insurance.

But the flood authority will not proceed with planned drainage improvements to Juniper Road and Camino de Tecolote, Reyes said.

Interim Sandoval County Manager Phil Rios said the county will now have to take over flood control for Placitas, but it has little money to do so.

“Either we do roads or we take care of the flooding issues,” Rios said.

Meanwhile, per the legislation, the 2011 property tax bills for the areas now removed from ESCAFCA will include a property tax levy for the flood authority operational expenses and a levy to cover $6 million in bond debt for ESCAFCA projects that voters approved in 2008.

A Sandoval County estimate for 2010 showed the ESCAFCA portion of property taxes would be about $129 for a home with an assessed value of $100,000.The median price for homes sold in Placitas in 2010 was $375,000, according to the website,