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January 5, 2012
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Incline tax revolt: Fire district sues Washoe County

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Incline Village’s fire district has filed a lawsuit against Washoe County regarding withheld funds in response to the $43 million tax revolt decision handed down last year by the Nevada Supreme Court.

In a 5-0 vote last Thursday, the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Board of Directors directed Legal Counsel Geno Menchetti, in cooperation with other attorneys, to file the suit against the Washoe County Commission and County Treasurer Tammi Davis. Both parties were served Friday.

In the filing, the district requests Washoe District Judge Patrick Flanagan to order Davis to stop withholding property taxes. The suit also requests NLTFPD not be responsible for paying about $1 million in interest associated with the withheld funds, considering it was the county’s decision to challenge the initial tax revolt suits for numerous years, thus delaying the refund process.

According to previous reports, of the entire $6.5 million for which NLTFPD is responsible in paying back the full $43.3 million refund, it has only saved about half. In order for the remaining cash to be included in the full refund, the county is withholding that remainder by not releasing the money to the district like it would in other fiscal years.

That equates to a major issue for the Incline fire district that, like other public entities, is experiencing revenue shortfalls due to the economic recession. According to previous reports, the $3 million or so being withheld could have significant impacts on fire and emergency service for Incline residents as the year goes on.

Already, Menchetti said, some of that $3 million has been withheld — to the tune of nearly $700,000 in November — and the next payment of at least six figures is expected to be withheld in February.

“That’s a big chunk of change that we need to stay in business,” Menchetti said.

Prior to the board’s approval Thursday, Menchetti said he had spoken on the phone with Washoe County Assistant Deputy District Attorney David Creekman to gauge if the county — which, according to previous reports, hadn’t budged from its position that funds and interest be withheld — would be willing to negotiate out of court.

“They’re response wasn’t just ‘no,’” Menchetti said. “But ‘hell no.’”

Creekman did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story. On Friday, Creekman told the Reno Gazette-Journal: “Generally, we do not respond to those until ordered by the court.”

Bill Horn, general manager of the Incline Village General Improvement District, attended the fire board meeting last week. At this point, it’s too early to predict if IVGID will follow the same path as the fire district, although Horn said he anticipates the issue to be discussed at a future IVGID board meeting.

On Tuesday of this week, Washoe County Treasurer Tammi Davis gave an update before the county commission on the refund process to individual property owners. As of the end of December, 475 parcels (representing 5.42 percent of total affected parcels) had been processed, with refunds totaling $7,318,636 in tax dollars and $830,835 in interest.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jan 11, 2012 08:19PM Published Jan 5, 2012 04:43PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.