County foreclosures trail other counties in region

RBC — Foreclosures in Rio Blanco County are on the rise, but it’s not as bad as in other parts of northwest Colorado.
“We contacted Garfield County, and they said they are seeing double,” said Karen Arnold, Rio Blanco County treasurer. “We’re still down from our neighbors, but we’re up as far as where we’ve been the last few years.”
During a quarterly report to county commissioners May 26, Arnold said there have been 11 foreclosures in the county, so far this year. Of those, nine are active.
“The active ones are still being negotiated, either making arrangements to catch up on payments, refinancing, selling and settling, or just being in the timeline, which has to be followed,”
Arnold said. “The ones that aren’t active have been either withdrawn by the foreclosing party, or they have gone through the whole foreclosure process and have been sold with a confirmation deed being recorded from the public trustee to the buyer.”
The record for foreclosures in Rio Blanco County is 75 in 1987.
“That was during the oil shale bust,” Arnold said. “We’ve never hit that since then.”
There were 12 foreclosure files initiated in 2008. Of those, six are still active, Arnold said.
She expects more foreclosures to come in.
“We have communiques with another attorney saying there’s eight more,” Arnold said. “The eight we’re waiting for is a contractor, who got in financial trouble, and he’s got eight unsold properties that will be foreclosed on.”
The eight unsold properties are in Rangely.
Of the 11 foreclosures so far this year in Rio Blanco County, eight are in Meeker and three in Rangely.
“Most of the time, they get redeemed or cured, where they work something out,” said Rhonna Waldref, junior deputy treasurer for the county. “We did have two foreclosures go all the way through, meaning the person lost their place, and it went back to the lending company, and both of those were in Rangely,”
The treasurer’s office is also seeing a drop-off in the number of releases, when the financial note on a property is paid off.
“I’m seeing a flip-flop in the releases, compared to the foreclosures,” Arnold said. “The releases have always been higher, and the foreclosures have been down further than what they are. The previous quarter, we had 175 releases. This quarter (ending March 31), we have 115. So that’s 60 releases, or basically, one month’s, that we’re down.”
Arnold said the county may be seeing more foreclosures, because of changes in the state statutes.
“The new state statutes, passed in this recent session, will be going into effect, I believe July 1,” Arnold told commissioners. “A lot of the public trustees across the state had foreseen a rush on foreclosures to get them filed before July 1, and then the new laws go into effect. There’s going to be a little more homeowner relief (with changes in the state statutes). The banks are going to have to give them so much more allotted time.”
Also, in her report to commissioners, Arnold said the county’s quarterly depositories were $51 million, an increase of $11 million over the same period last year.
The county’s general accounts and use tax account are up $5 million over last year for the same time, and there’s an increase in the impact fee trust fund of $1.5 million, while the County Capital Improvement Trust Fund (CCITF) was down $1 million from a year ago.
As far as investments, Arnold reported the county has $6.8 million in checking and money markets, while CCITF has $1.2 million in checking and money markets. In the Colorado Local Government Liquid Asset Trust (Colotrust), the county has $11.3 invested and CCITF has $1.2 million invested. The county has $14.2 million invested in certificates of deposits, while CCITF has $8.8 million. CCITF also has $7.1 million invested in treasury notes.
In the county’s general accounts, the use tax fund has $9.6 million, while the impact fee trust fund has $2.9 million.
“Right now, the plan of action is to keep our money safe, rather than going after yield,” Arnold said of the county’s investment policy. “Even if we have to take a little less for it, we want to make sure it’s safe.”