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County treasurer announces re-election bid

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Charlotte Andrade received her 15-year service pin from Chaves County during an employee recognition ceremony last week, but she doesn’t intend to end her career any time soon.

She has announced that she will seek re-election in 2020 as Chaves County treasurer, running again as a Republican for the public office.

“There is so much more to do,” Andrade said.

She said the county’s tax collection rate of 99.38% — a rate that has been maintained for about 10 years and now involves about 40,000 accounts and $34.6 million in property tax collections annually — “speaks for itself” in terms of her office’s performance.

She lists many changes she and her staff of four have made and a few more she knows she wants to implement if re-elected.

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The changes already made have “streamlined operations while improving efficiencies,” she said, and include adding an 800 number for people to call to make payments, upgrading the online payment system, reducing the fee charged for credit card payments, adding bar codes to tax coupons to make accessing accounts simpler, publishing and mailing tax reminders in Spanish and English, and implementing a method for pre-payments beginning in June of each year.

“For those who are on fixed incomes, it can be hard for them to pay (property taxes) all in one lump sum right before the Christmas holiday,” Andrade said.

She also has made presentations at senior centers in the county to explain the tax process and the pre-payment option. And her office has assisted the 800 or so taxpayers in the county whose mortgages were processed by Roswell Escrow Services, which has shut down. The county has waived penalties and late fees for those customers and will give them until May 2020 to make their tax payments. While the county can’t offer much other help, she said, the staff will provide as much other information as possible.

If re-elected, some of the changes she would like to make include establishing satellite locations during tax-paying season so that people have additional options where they can make in-person payments, creating a drive-in payment window for the Chaves County Administrative Center office as an option for people who cannot easily walk from the parking lot to the office, and explaining to taxpayers in several different ways, including on the tax bill itself, exactly what makes up their tax payments.

“We get so many questions,” she said. “‘What are all these authorities for? … I don’t have any kids. Why am I paying for schools?’”

She said the ideas for changes come not only from her but in consultation with the entire office staff.

“I operate under a different management style where I am inclusive of the entire staff. We meet every week and we bounce different ideas off each other to see how we can improve the service we are providing to our taxpayers,” she said. “That is how these other improvements have evolved, because of staff input.”

In addition to collecting property taxes, the Chaves County Treasurer’s Office also handles all revenues that come to the county from gross receipts taxes, grant funding, business personal property taxes and other sources. The staff must reconcile its accounts with the Finance Department on a regular basis and disburse money as intended to school districts, Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell and municipalities.

“We have had continuous clean audits,” she said about the county as a whole. “We have been very fortunate in that we have had no findings.”

Andrade actually first joined the county in 1994, when she was hired as fire services administrator. But she left after four years to attend college full time.

She earned an associate’s degree from Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell in 2000 and a bachelor’s degree from Eastern New Mexico University in 2002. She said she is only a few credits away from having her master’s degree from ENMU. She also is a 2004 graduate of Leadership Roswell and 2014 graduate of Leadership New Mexico.

She rejoined the county in 2004 as grants administrator in the Finance Department for federal and state grants, a position that became the community development manager position and entailed overseeing juvenile justice, DWI Prevention and court services. She also said she represented the county manager or the Finance Department director with state agencies or legislative groups.

In 2014, she became the chief deputy treasurer under elected official Steve Harris.

A mother of three adult children, Andrade is raising a 9-year-old granddaughter. Besides work and family, her activities include active participation in the Chaves County Republican Party and the Federated Republican Women of Chaves County, the New Mexico Counties professional group, Midway Assembly of God, the United Way Board of Directors and the Elks.

She said she intends to establish a campaign website in early 2020 and that former county chief deputy clerk Doug Shaw, who no longer works with the county, will serve as her campaign treasurer.

The primaries are scheduled for June 2. The general election is Nov. 3. No other candidates have announced their intention to run at this time.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.