A public auction that attempted to recoup $672,000 in unpaid taxes did not result in the sale of the property, and another auction is planned for October. A resident bid $20,000 for the property’s two golf courses, clubhouse and affiliated buildings, but state taxation officials rejected it, saying the combined value of the delinquent taxes was the required minimum bid.
For the second time in less than a year, the Santa Teresa (N.M.) Country Club failed to sell at a public auction held on September 9 to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes, the Las Cruces (N.M.) Sun-News reported.
Mesilla resident Fred Haruda, a medical doctor, attempted to bid $20,000 for the three parcels, which included two golf courses, a clubhouse and affiliated buildings. But state taxation officials said at least $672,000—the combined value of delinquent taxes for the three properties—was needed and didn’t accept the bid, the Sun-News reported.
There were no other bidders. At least one other party interested in potentially buying the country club was believed to be in the audience but stayed silent during the auction. State officials plan to hold an additional auction in October, the Sun-News reported.
Haruda would have opened a restaurant at the country club and invested in the golf courses, which would have generated new tax revenue for the county and other economic benefits, he said.
“I was hoping by reopening the golf course and the restaurant to provide up to 100 jobs in Doña Ana County, as well as raise the property tax values of the surrounding neighborhood,” Haruda said after the auction. “They’re sitting on a big chunk of property that isn’t generating any money.”
A large portion of the unpaid $672,000 owed by owner Greg Collins would belong to Doña Ana County and state taxpayers, when it gets paid. It will be distributed to schools, county government and other entities that receive property tax revenues. The state would keep the interest and penalty money that’s included in the sum, the Sun-News reported.
A number of variables are spurring skepticism among would-be buyers. Among them are the possibility of other liens on the property, which a buyer would be liable for; the current condition of the grounds, which nearby residents have complained are deteriorating; and the chance for the properties to be redeemed by owner Greg Collins within a certain time frame after the auction, allowed under state law, the Sun-News reported.
Some country club neighborhood residents have argued that the deteriorating condition of the country club grounds is hurting residential property values and goes against a larger push for economic development in Santa Teresa, the Sun-News reported.
Because the property failed to sell, it remains in the hands of Collins, who hasn’t responded to requests by the Sun-News for an interview. In theory, Collins could still sell the land in a private transaction, and if the buyer paid the taxes, the parcels would be removed from the auction list, the Sun-News reported.
If a particular property tax bill goes unpaid for 10 consecutive years, it’s scrubbed from the books, said Doña Ana County Treasurer David Gutierrez. The Santa Teresa Country Club parcels have been delinquent since 2005, he said.
“So, in 2016, those taxes would start falling off,” but it’s only for one year each time, he said. “In 2016, the 2005 taxes would fall off.”
The state does have a mechanism in statute to lower the asking price for the property at auction, Gutierrez said, after it has unsuccessfully attempted to get the full value of taxes owed, the Sun-News reported.
“They may not get all the penalty and interest or taxes, but they can put it at a price where the property can sell,” Gutierrez said.