Jim Clark: Furor over Assembly Bill 46 is not abating

Jim Clark

Readers may recall that AB 46 started off as legislation that would increase sales taxes by $0.0025 and add a nickel per $100 assessed valuation to real estate taxes only in Washoe County.

This would fund the Washoe County School District’s capital projects budget. Unable to muster the 2/3 majority vote required for passage the legislature delegated its taxing authority to the Washoe County Commission.

I have spent a lot of time on this subject in the column space the Bonanza affords, and since this matter is now at the County Commission level, vocal adherents both supporting and opposing the measure feel empowered to affect the outcome, which may not have been the case when it was in the legislature.

Conflicting editorials and letters to editor on AB 46 appear almost daily in Reno Gazette Journal.

Last week, Bonanza reader Ken Hubbart emailed: “Jim: Thank you for remaining focused on AB 46 and the school budget issues. Your articles are most enlightening and should be of major interest to all Washoe County residents.

“The articles written by Siobhan McAndrew, and proposed Washoe County School District budget, which appeared in the August 11th Sunday Reno Gazette-Journal brings to mind several questions.

“Of the $426.3 million Washoe County School Budget or $6,826.00 per student 80.4 percent or $5,489.91 is spent on employee expenses with another 1.1 percent spent on employee training and administrative expenses.

“Building, vehicles and maintenance expenses account for 5.4 percent. Communication expenses .05 percent; books, software, tech supplies 1.3 percent and misc expenses 2.5 percent for a total of 90.75 percent. That leaves $626.62 per student or $39,139,938 available for repairs. 

“Under employee expenses the budget allows $35.34 /student for ROTC Instructors. That amounts to $2,207,400. Is this course necessary? $70.09 /student or $4,377,961 is spent for assistants, $52.05 /student or $3,251,147 is spent for psychologists. $316.20 /student or $19,750,484 is spent on classified employees. In addition Washoe County sees fit to provide a budget of $2.75 / student or $171,770 vacation pay for these classified employees, as well as $22.23/student or $1,388,530.20 for certified employee sick leave. What is a “classified/certified” employee? The county has a $0.19/student budget or $11,867 budgeted for student action workers. What is a student action worker? The budget includes $2.53/student or $158,028 for overtime and then another $0.87/student or $54,341 for additional time. These are just a few questions I have under employee expenses let alone five other categories.

In short there appears to be a great deal of “fat” in the Washoe County school budget which deserves scrutiny by the Washoe County Commission before they take any action on AB 46.

“The Washoe County Commissioners owe it to themselves and the citizens they represent to visit each of the schools requiring repairs and maintenance with the head of school maintenance and an outside contractor.

“From these visits, schools in need of repairs should be prioritized and budgeted with the monies coming from the existing budget. People in industry have to make difficult decisions and the same should be expected from the Washoe County School District.”

In June I wrote that Washoe’s share of the increased Nevada education budget will be about $38 million per year. Mr. Hubbart carefully dissected published school budget detail and came up with almost exactly the same figure.

Bottom line: Why is the school district trying to increase our sales and real estate taxes to raise an estimated $20 million per year when they have already received a windfall of almost $40 million per year they didn’t know at the beginning of the legislative session they were going to get?

So far no one’s saying.

Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates; he has served on the Washoe County and Nevada State GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at

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