Mary Guthrie, Grant County assessor, and Eric Morales, deputy assessor, held, on Monday at noon, the first of four informational meetings to "let people know how important their notice of value is." The second was held later that day.
Guthrie explained how to read the notice of value, so that a property owner can estimate how much his or her property tax will be.
The protest period for those believing their valuation is not correct have 30 days after receipt of the notice to protest the value.
"By the time you get your bill, it's too late to protest," Guthrie said.
The Assessor's Office figures value per square foot by neighborhood, with a so-called mass appraisal, because not every house is individually appraised.
Guthrie said homeowners should apply for the household exemption and the veteran exemption, plus those 65 years old or older or are 100 percent disabled, who receive less than $32,000 in income a year, can qualify for a freeze in value.
"Everyone who owns a home is eligible for the household exemption. About 1,300 eligible homeowners have not applied," Guthrie said. "Applying for the exemption takes about $2,000 off your taxable value."
The notice of value lists the full value of a home, but in New Mexico, a home is taxed on one-third of the full value. "You can estimate your tax by using last year's tax rate," Guthrie said. "Our office does not receive from the state the new tax rate until late August or September."
To a question, she said that a manufactured home could be considered real property if it is fixed to the site and the motor vehicle title has been deactivated. If the motor vehicle title is still valid, then the manufactured home is considered personal property, if it is not fixed to the land.
Guthrie urged anyone wishing to protest to come into her office within 30 days of having received the notice of value. She emphasized that the account number, as well as the legal description on the notice of value is important for her office or the treasurer's office.
She said it took the county assessors two years to reappraise values outside the city limits. The assessors are now starting the subdivisions, and it will probably take about three years to complete the subdivisions and all the municipalities.
The more dollar values of property that are on the books, the lower the tax rate.
To another question about property outside a subdivision and what is considered the home site, she explained the home site includes the property that is used, such as the home, the barn or garage or studio. The home site is usually up to two acres, and the rest of the property is considered non-residential, which has a higher tax rate.
"If you feel that the value is incorrect or not fair, come in and get a protest form. I don't want people to feel like they don't want to protest," Guthrie said. "We're here to help you."
Morales said it is helpful to the office personnel for the owner to have the notice of value, so that it can be explained to them.
"We get 100 to 150 protests a year, which is less than 1 percent of the notices sent out," Guthrie said.
After a protest is received, the owner and personnel from the Assessor's Office will have a formal conversation, and the property will be looked at.
The protest forms can also be found on the grancountynm.com website.
Guthrie sits on the protest board.
"It's not us against you," she said. "We want to be fair."
The next informational meetings will be held Monday April 14, at noon and 5:30 p.m. at the Grant County Administration Center Commissioners Room.