TANYA GIDDINGS, Bernalillo County Assessor, Petitioner-Petitioner,
SRT-MOUNTAIN VISTA, LLC, ROBERT FOX, and LINDA FOX, Respondents-Respondents.
FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF BERNALILLO COUNTY Carl J. Butkus,
Robles, Rael & Anaya, P.C. Charles H. Rennick Marcus J.
Rael, Jr. Albuquerque, NM for Petitioner
Thayer & Browne, P.C. Frank C. Salazar Larry Curtis
Vernon Albuquerque, NM for Respondent SRT-Mountain Vista, LLC
Chavez & Associates, LLC Claud Eugene Vance Albuquerque,
NM for Respondents Linda Fox and Robert Fox
J. VARGAS, JUDGE.
On motion of the Bernalillo County Assessor (Assessor), the
district court certified this appeal to resolve three issues
arising from two consolidated district court cases. First, we
conclude the district court has appellate jurisdiction to
review decisions of the Bernalillo County Valuation Protests
Board (Board) based upon the Assessor's petitions for
writs of certiorari. Second, we determine the Assessor to be
an aggrieved party, entitling her to review of the
Board's decision under Rule 1- 075(B) NMRA. Third, we
hold that residential property transfers between individuals
or their trusts, and their wholly-owned limited liability
companies constitute a "change of ownership" as
defined by NMSA 1978, Section 7-36-21.2(E) (2010).
The consolidated district court cases from which the Assessor
appeals arose from separate and unrelated decisions by the
Board regarding the properties of two taxpayers. As such, we
set forth the relevant factual and procedural backgrounds of
each case leading up to consolidation in the district court.
The SRT-Mountain Vista, LLC Proceeding
SRT-Mountain Vista, LLC (SRT) is a New Mexico limited
liability company wholly owned by The Philip J. Salley
Revocable Trust (Trust) and managed by Philip J. Sal ley.
Prior to April 24, 2013, the SRT subject property was owned
by the Trust. On that date, Sal ley, as trustee of the Trust,
executed a special warranty deed granting the subject
property to SRT for purposes of refinancing the property.
Following the transfer from the Trust to SRT, the Assessor
valued the subject property at its "current and
correct" taxable value for the 2014 tax year, without
applying any limitations on increased value provided for in
Section 7-36-21.2(A). SRT protested the Assessor's
valuation to the Board, arguing there was no "change of
ownership" as defined in Section 7-36-21.2(E), and that
the subject property therefore qualified for the limitation
on property value accorded by Section 7-36-21.2(A). The Board
found "[t]he 2013 warranty deed clearly and indisputably
transferred fee ownership from the Trust to the LLC[, ]"
but that the transfer did not constitute a "change [of]
ownership" for purposes of Section 7-36-21.2(E) because
"the property had the same ultimate owner owning the
The Robert and Linda Fox Proceeding
Robert and Linda Fox created Fox Trust, a revocable inter
vivos trust, to serve as the sole owner of various LLCs.
Prior to 2013, these LLCs owned the Fox subject properties.
On January 23, 2013, and February 5, 2013, the LLCs granted
the subject properties to Richard and Linda Fox as joint
tenants for purposes of refinancing. After refinancing the
properties, Robert and Linda Fox granted the properties back
to the various LLCs that previously owned them.
Following these conveyances, the Assessor valued the subject
properties at their "current and correct" taxable
values for the 2014 tax year, without regard to the valuation
limitation set forth in Section 7-36-21.2(A). Robert and
Linda Fox protested the Assessor's valuation to the
Board, arguing that notwithstanding the transfers, there was
no "change of ownership" under Section
7-36-21.2(E). The Board found "[t]he 2013 warranty deeds
clearly and indisputably transferred fee ownership from the
LLCs to [Robert and Linda Fox] and back to the LLCs/Trusts[,
]" but that the transfers did not constitute
"changes of ownership" within the meaning of
Section 7-36-21.2(E) "because in each case the property
had the same ultimate owners owning the same proportion of
The District Court Proceedings
After the Board issued its decisions in both cases, the
Assessor filed petitions for writs of certiorari in the
district court, seeking reversal of the Board's decisions
on the grounds that they were arbitrary and capricious and
not in accordance with ...