Tahoe-Truckee school district to refund homeowners who paid double taxes for 21 years | SierraSun.com

Tahoe-Truckee school district to refund homeowners who paid double taxes for 21 years

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; A 21-year taxation loophole and#8212; causing a double charge to homeowners who own 19 parcels near Donner Lake that straddle the Nevada and Placer county line and#8212; will finally be fixed for good.

Steve Dickinson, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s assistant superintendent of finances, said this week the district will refund the parcel owners who have been taxed twice for the Measure A parcel tax and#8212; once for Nevada County and again for Placer County, since 1989.

He estimated combined refunds would total roughly $10,000.

Measure A, which was renewed and raised last year from $98 to $135 per parcel annually for TTUSD residents, was created to pay for school supplies, Advanced Placement classes, physical education, music and library services. The newest form, which begins at the start of the 2012-13 school year, will generate roughly $4 million for the district.

While the parcel tax was always meant to pay for beneficial school programs, Dickinson said it was never the district’s intention to burden parcel owners. TTUSD regrets the glitch existed for so long, he said.

The Placer County Grand Jury released its annual report on May 31 and#8212; including a 4-page section recommending the school district stop double billing of the parcel tax and refund the excess taxes collected and#8212; after a resident brought the issue to the jury’s attention.

Despite the recommendation, property owners on Donner Lake’s Cottonwood Street were skeptical if the district would refund the total amount or whether officials would refund according to a statute of limitations and#8212; allowing for just three years of refunds, according to an article by George Warren, with ABC News 10 in Sacramento, who first reported the story.

According to the June 12 article at http://www.news10.net, some parcel owners were upset about the double tax, especially due to its duration and an apparent unresponsiveness from the school district on the issue.

An anonymous homeowner quoted in the News 10 article said he complained to the school district when the tax was first imposed two decades ago, saying the district removed the double tax on his property but did not offer the same to his neighbors.

and#8220;It really makes me angry,and#8221; said the homeowner.

In a recent correspondence to the Sun, another homeowner and#8212; wishing to remain anonymous as not to appear in opposition of local schools and#8212; said he and others were not satisfied with a three-year refund and that the district needed to resolve the issue soon.

and#8220;Why did the school district not follow up on this 21 years ago when this was first brought to its attention? And, why are they not responding to the media or to taxpayers?and#8221; said the home owner.

In a joint e-mail to the Sierra Sun, homeowners Rip and Elaine Robinett also called for immediate action and a full refund.

and#8220;The grand jury’s recommendation says that the district needs to stop the double taxation billing and refund the excess tax collected by them. It does not say that the refund should be limited by years. We should be entitled to a full refund,and#8221; the Robinetts said.

Dickinson confirmed the district had made three-year refunds with some homeowners in the past, and he underscored his promise to offer full refunds.

and#8220;I think it was approximately in December we did reimburse several parcels for up to three years which we believed was our limit; but again, now having a county grand jury instructing us to go further, I have no problem with that,and#8221; Dickinson said. and#8220;So yes, we’re going to go back and reimburse the parcel tax that would have been collected if the owner actually did pay it in both counties.and#8221;

and#8220;I am all about making it right and getting people the proper reimbursement,and#8221; he added.

Asked what the reason was for the delay, Dickinson said he did not know specific reasons, but would do his best to make sure full refunds are sent out.

and#8220;I think I would first apologize and say it shouldn’t have taken this long,and#8221; Dickinson said.

In a Thursday interview, Elaine Robinett said if the district issues the full refund, she would be appeased and that she fully supports public schools as long as taxation is done equitably.