About the same number of people were delinquent on their property taxes in 2019 as compared with 2018 – the number of delinquencies not yet affected by the havoc wreaked on the economy beginning in March with the advent of COVID-19.
“The number of delinquencies were very similar to 2018. I mean, it’s like no statistical difference whatsoever,” said La Plata County Treasurer Allison Aichele.
Most property taxpayers pay their property taxes through escrow accounts as part of their mortgages, and payments covering property taxes now due for 2019 were largely paid through monthly mortgage payments made in 2019. Aichele said those 2019 payments were not affected by the slowing of the economy caused by COVID-19.
The financial difficulties mortgage holders might be experiencing this year as a result of COVID-19 are more likely to be reflected in the number of next year’s delinquent property taxpayers.
More than 700 land and property owners delinquent on their 2019 property taxes will be published in The Durango Herald on Wednesday, and the list will be published again Oct. 21.
The list was initially published Oct. 7.
Properties remaining delinquent after noon Nov. 4 will go to a tax lien sale on Nov. 5.
Aichele said she expects a good number of the delinquent taxpayers will pay their past-due tax bills before the tax lien sale.
“We usually get about 50% of the people whose names are published to come in and pay their taxes. This is not to shame people, it’s to let them know, there’s a tax lien out there, and it’s for communication purposes. And so about half of them will come in before Nov. 5, pay their taxes, so it never goes to tax lien sale,” she said.
One day after initial publication of the list, the number of delinquent taxpayers was down to about 650 people, she said.
For property owners, full payment of delinquent taxes must be paid to the Treasurer’s Office by noon Nov. 4, and payments must be made with cash or certified funds; checks will not be accepted.
At the internet tax lien sale Nov. 5, investors can bid on delinquent taxes, and winning bids will go to the county to cover the delinquent taxes. The investor will get 9% interest annually for loaning money to the delinquent taxpayer to cover his or her tax bill.
When delinquent taxpayers eventually pay, they must pay not only their delinquent tax bills but also all fees, publishing costs and interest to the investor who covered their delinquent tax bills.
Under Colorado law, after three years of unpaid property taxes, investors can apply for a treasurer’s deed to acquire the property. The process includes numerous opportunities for the delinquent taxpayer to pay his or her tax bill. Aichele said it is rare for delinquencies to reach the stage of an issuance of a treasurer’s deed.
The tax lien sale, Aichele said, ensures all taxing authorities, such as fire districts, school districts and metro districts, get the tax dollars they expect.
The property taxpayer in the county with the largest delinquency for 2019 was Mondorivoli LLC, owned by Durango restaurateur and property owner Jean-Pierre Bleger.
Mondorivoli was delinquent on $76,133.48 in property taxes for property at 600 Main Ave. Mondorivoli was also delinquent on $46,487.03 for two lots at 601 Main Ave. Mondorivoli was delinquent on $42,363.50 for property at 225 East Eight Ave., and for $9,991.29 for property at 277 East Eighth Ave.
Bleger said he planned to pay the back property taxes before the Nov. 5 tax lien sale.
In addition, Bleger said a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization filed by Mondorivoli in July 2019 has been resolved and the firm is no longer seeking bankruptcy protection.
Bleger declined to comment about how the bankruptcy was resolved.