Whooee! People are steamed, mad as hell and not gonna take it any more; grinding mad at the Nevada Assembly and the Washoe County School District. All this angst is about Assembly Bill 46, a measure that would raise sales taxes by 0.25 percent and raise our property tax by $0.05 per hundred dollars assessed valuation.
Introduced last December at the request of the Washoe County School District the proposal would override a taxpayer protection statute that limits the combined property tax rate to $3.64 per hundred dollars assessed valuation as well as a statute that limits year over year property tax increases to 3 percent on homes.
The measure would raise about $20,000,000 per year which would be earmarked for maintenance and repairs of school buildings.
The Nevada Constitution requires a 2/3 majority vote to raise taxes and Governor Sandoval announced at the outset of the legislative session that he would not approve any tax increases so initial prospects for AB 46 were dim.
Moreover, the Washoe School District has come up with an inflated “laundry list” of $550 million in needed repairs. At $20 million per year it would take 25 years to do the work.
By the way since these tax increases only apply to Washoe County most assembly members from elsewhere were content to let the Washoe delegation deal with the details.
Early on an effort to circumvent the Constitutional 2/3 majority vote unfolded when a proposed amendment would have delegated the final power to increase taxes to the Washoe County School Board. That’s when voters first started seeing red. The suggestion proved so abominable that it was dropped.
As the session dragged on it became clear that the votes were not there to pass the measure. Minority Leader Pat Hickey (R-Reno) sent out a weekly legislative summary reciting this prognosis.
Last week, as the session began to grind to a conclusion, Hickey and Assemblyman Randy Kirner (R-Reno who represents Incline/Crystal Bay) persuaded their colleagues to amend the bill to delegate to the Washoe County Commission the right to impose the tax increases and to require a 2/3 vote. Talk about handing off a tar baby.
Here are some priceless excerpts from letters to the Reno Gazette Journal appearing last weekend: “Our elected representatives have shirked their primary duty … These spineless parasites must be voted out of office…”; “Perhaps it’s time for a Prop 13 in Nevada”; “I believe the proposal to give the county commissioners the power to raise taxes for schools is unconstitutional.” “… the school district has wasted taxpayer funds through mismanagement and frivolous ‘pie in the sky endeavors…’”
As this is being written, AB 46 was passed by the Nevada Senate on the last day of the session and sent to the governor. If vetoed, it will then require a 2/3 vote to override so the squirrelly measure is not out of the woods yet.
Even if the governor signs it, the proposal would still have to gain the votes of all four Republicans on the county commission. Stand by; the battle of Washoe County may be about to commence in earnest.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates and has served on the Washoe County & Nevada State GOP Central Committees; he can be reached at email@example.com.