Doña Ana County



When Jim Schoonover took office as county treasurer in January, he had a resolve to run the office a little differently.

After six months in office, Schoonover's style of management appears to have paid off for county coffers.
One of Schoonover's first priorities was to take a hard look at delinquent taxes. For fiscal year 2005, delinquent real property taxes are those outstanding from 2002. During the three years since 2002, the outstanding taxes have been accruing penalties and interest, all of which could be lost to the state July 1, when tax delinquencies must be turned over to the state. Schoonover set out to minimize the loss of penalties and interest, which totaled about $635,000 when he took office in January.

"I believe in equitable tax collection," Schoonover said. "Everyone who owes, needs to pay."

Instead of hiring a chief deputy treasurer, Schoonover asked County Manager Brian Haines to have the money allocated to hiring a temporary employee, whose primary objective was to assist in the collection of the 1,185 delinquent properties.

In the first few months of this year, the temp and a treasurer's office staffer focused a great deal on correcting bad addresses and contacting deed holders. Schoonover said the employees had to correct about 13 large mail bins-full of returned mail.

"We really thought there was going to be a rash of calls by residents and deed holders who wanted to contest their delinquency after we mailed out about 900 notices, but it didn't turn out that bad," Schoonover said.

Schoonover's investment in the temporary employee yielded huge returns. The treasurer's office has reduced the number of delinquent properties to 188 and the forfeited outstanding penalties and interest slated to go to Santa Fe July 1 is $39,086.

For more information, call Grant A. Taylor, assistant to the director of public information, at (505) 647-7290. Anyone calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7290.