Jenell Schwab
North Lake Tahoe Bonanza

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May 17, 2012
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Incline fire district votes to increase property tax rate

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Before voting to up property tax rates 16 percent for the coming fiscal year, several North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District board members on Wednesday said they felt the matter was out of their hands.

“Reluctantly, I’ll support it,” said Director Wayne Fischer. “Washoe County has put us in a difficult situation.”

According to district staff, property tax revenue for 2011-12 was $7,341,534. The 2012-13 tax rate approved Wednesday of .6414 per $100 of assessed value — up from .5525 — will add an estimated $454,377 to the district’s bottom line.

“How this increase will affect individual taxpayers, I can’t answer truthfully,” said Sharon Cary, business manager for the district. “It will be done on a parcel-by-parcel basis.”

Last year, the board opted to not vote in a property tax increase.

The increase this year, staff said, is an attempt to patch a hole in the district’s budget that opened after 2011’s Nevada Supreme Court decision forced Washoe County to refund $43 million in over-collected property taxes funds and interest to Incline property owners.

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

The district is attempting to negotiate a settlement with the county, but NLTFPD Counsel Geno Menchetti said the county is not cooperating, despite instruction from the Supreme Court that it do so.

“We want to get out from underneath these interest payments we got dragged into through no making of our own,” said Director Dale Smith.

The Incline community could see substandard fire and emergency services without the money, the fire district warned in previous Bonanza reports.

“Further discussion?” Chairman Chris Plastiras asked the board.

“I don’t think we have a choice, Mr. Chairman,” responded Director Don Epstein.

The board OK’d the tax increase 4-1, with Plastiras dissenting.

The tax increase will be voted on as part of the entire 2012-13 budget at special meeting at noon Friday at the board’s office at 893 Tanager St.

According to the fire district, the 2012-13 budget is based on the 16 percent property tax increase and a fully staffed department — meaning nine captains, nine engineers, 15 firefighter/paramedics, nine firefighters, its entire administrative staff, 34 seasonal employees and some full-time fuels employees.

The numbers include an assistant chief, but the district has opted to save $198,000 by not hiring one for 2012-13.

— Bonanza Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated May 17, 2012 01:58PM Published May 17, 2012 01:57PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.