Nevada County sues Town of Truckee
Nevada County opened a new front in its legal battle with Truckee over property taxes, filing a lawsuit last week to halt the town’s proposed redevelopment plan.The town approved a redevelopment plan Oct. 15 that covers 800 acres, or most of the developed area in the town, according to the county suit. However, the town failed to make the case that this area is blighted and, therefore, warrants the diversion of tax revenue under the redevelopment plan, the county charged.Tax revenue has become a touchy issue between Nevada County and Truckee. The town is already suing for a larger share of property taxes, claiming it was shortchanged when it incorporated in 1993.”We adopted the agency and the county said they had concerns regarding the boundaries of the project and whether or not all of the property in there was appropriate or not,” Truckee Town Manager Steve Wright said. “We agreed to enter into a tolling agreement and over the past three months we talked with county representatives about modifying it.”However, he said the county elected to stop discussions and file suit.”As the discussions were going on, there was also talk of settling the property tax issue,” Wright said. “That has not been resolved. Because that issue has not been resolved, the county decided not to continue tolling the statute of limitations. That forced them to either file suit or allow the redevelopment plan to proceed.”The county expects to lose more than $2 million under the redevelopment plan, which it claims will affect a range of services, from public safety to welfare. Schools and other agencies that receive tax revenue would suffer under the shift, the county contends.The ordinance to authorize the redevelopment plan “is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, invalid and a violation of the law,” the county suit complains.”Substantial parts” of the redevelopment area do not suffer from blight, the suit claims. Moreover, the town failed to show that private enterprise could not make the needed improvements without redevelopment money.The county further alleges that Truckee failed to prove the plan was economically sound and that the properties in the area could harm public health.While the paperwork for the suit was filed at the county courthouse in Nevada City, County Counsel James Flageollet indicated the case could be transferred to Truckee.The county board of supervisors Tuesday approved a $35,000 contract with the San Francisco firm Goldfarb & Lipman to litigate the case.However, Truckee officials have previously argued that the county will only lose a share of the future tax increase – and a small one at that. The $2.5 million sum the county is fighting over would be accumulated over a 45-year period, Truckee Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook said in September.The area targeted for redevelopment suffers from insufficient infrastructure, run-down buildings and environmental contamination in areas used for gas stations, according to the redevelopment plan. It also has many lots of irregular size, posing a challenge to developers.After filing the suit, the county released a prepared statement indicating it has held meetings with Truckee town officials to resolve its differences over the redevelopment plan. The county said it would continue to work with the town to resolve the dispute, according to the statement released by the office of County Administrator David Brennan.”We followed the law in order not to run into the kinds of problems which they are now claiming to have,” Wright said. “We knew the law and hired specialty consultants to see that plan was properly documented and we went forward with it from there.”
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Nevada County is now likely to remain in the red tier barring “extenuating circumstances,” thanks to changes to the state’s reopening blueprint announced this week.