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Treasurer, clerk deliver semi-annual reports to BoCC

In her semiannual report to the Board of County Commissioners on Feb. 2, Treasurer Betty Diller told the BoCC that foreclosures in Archuleta County are still on the rise.

The treasurer’s office received 22 foreclosures in January, up from 14 in January 2009, Diller reported. In 2009, 218 foreclosure files were opened, compared to 127 in 2008 and 49 in 2007.

In addition to a larger number of foreclosures, a larger portion of the foreclosure files remained active through the end of the year.

“At the end of 2009, we had 137 active files. At the end of 2008 there were 41 files active. At the end of 2007 there were 12 active files,” Diller said, explaining that deferment processes are available for some property owners, which keeps their files active longer, but requires more processing on the part of the treasurer’s office.

Diller also told the BoCC that a Web site with foreclosure information is ready to launch, easing research difficulties for property owners, Realtors and prospective buyers, and that her office is looking into e-recording foreclosure documents with the county clerk in order to save time. She said more possibilities will be looked into to increase efficiency.

“Later this spring, we will host a public trustee roundtable. This will be a meeting of area public trustees and will allow us the opportunity to discuss and streamline operating procedures. This will help us develop more uniformity in procedures throughout the state of Colorado,” Diller said.

In addition to the foreclosure statistics, Diller reported on a number of other topics:

• Sales tax collections for the last half of 2009 were $1,631,573.04, a decrease of $157,746.93 from the last half of 2008.

• Highway User Tax collections increased with $899,763 received in the last half of 2009. This is an increase of $23,962.51 over the prior year.

• Property Tax collection for the county for 2009 is at 98.37 percent.

“I believe there are two primary factors inhibiting the sale of some of the remaining tax liens,” Diller said. “First is the economy. As an example, we had several investors who received fewer redemptions than last year. This gave them less money to purchase new liens. Another factor is the status of underdeveloped subdivisions. The investors have declined purchasing liens on property that does not have roads or utilities.”

Diller reported that her office began enforcing state statutes concerning the collection of personal property tax.

“The sheriff’s office cooperated very well with us in going out to serve these distraints. We were able to collect approximately $30,000 through this combined effort,” Diller said.

A meeting was also held with area banks to inform them of the statutes and procedures that could affect bank clients, Diller noted.

“We look forward to the installation of the Web module for our financial software later this year. This will provide a great service to property owners, prospective property owners, investors, Realtors, title companies and financial institutions,” Diller said.

Although her staff currently has a “love, hate” relationship with the software due to difficulty of converting to the software and the necessity for it to reflect changes in law and procedure, Diller said the software will allow investors, title companies and others to serve themselves by being able to look up information on the Web 24 hours a day.

Diller also informed the BoCC that Archuleta County was chosen to host the 2013 fall seminar of the Colorado County Treasurers Association, which will use approximately 100 hotel rooms.

At the same meeting, Clerk June Madrid presented the BoCC with a year-end report.

In 2009, the clerk’s office collected $3,233,907, of which $1,912,923 stayed in Archuleta County, while 1,320,314 was passed on to the state, Madrid reported. This is up $41,000 over 2008.

Much of Madrid’s report was a warning to the BoCC of the possible effects of Proposition 101 on the county’s finances, with a proposed reduced cost of motor vehicle registrations.

“If Proposition 101 should pass, this kind of tells you the kind of money that we will not have. It’ll go from $3 million to $971,000,” Madrid said, stressing that the figure is an estimate and adding, “If the registrations go down to $1 and $2, as is proposed on the ballot, we will have no money.”

County Administrator Greg Schulte added that Colorado Counties, Inc., is working to provide information to provide an estimate should Proposition 101 should pass, noting that it was complicated to calculate accurate estimates.

“Based upon very rough estimates, the $1.9 million we normally get is estimated to go down to less than $500,000, for a difference of about $1.5 million dollars,” Schulte said. The hit would be taken by the county’s General Fund, which alarms Schulte because of the county’s lack of reserves following rebuilding after the past financial meltdown, and because the reduction in money would be permanent and could cause profound cuts in employment and services.

Other items reported to the BoCC by Madrid include:

• The clerk’s office is now able to take credit cards for motor vehicle transactions, however, a 2-percent fee will be added when cards are used.

”That kind of takes the pain away from paying because we’ve never taken credit cards before,” Madrid said.

• Madrid said a Request for Proposal for a new recording system was put out and, while seven companies responded, the current vendor came out on top. Madrid also noted the E-Recording software that is part of the system pays for itself due to charges to use it.

• All campaign information is now done through the Secretary of State’s office instead of through the county clerk’s office.

• The primary election will be held Aug. 10, while the general election will take place Nov. 2. The clerk is currently planning on holding vote center elections, and will likely be coming before the BoCC with resolutions to do so in the coming months.

Madrid noted that the option of holding the primary as a mail-in election was discussed, but said it was felt that holding the two elections in different manners would present confusion.

The next regular BoCC meeting will be held Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m.