Last October I wrote a letter to the editor ($40M leagues under the sea) warning that unless the Village League to Save Incline Assets did something to preserve its property tax refund victory, IVGID and the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District would come up with new taxes against local property owners (the very recipients of those refunds) to solve their budget shortfalls directly caused by those refunds.
Stated differently, I warned that “the right hand of government (wa)s about to tax us another $40M so the left hand c(ould) refund this sum to” those paying the tax. I asked if this were “what the League had in mind when it filed its (tax refund) lawsuit (and) If not, what (wa)s it doing to prevent IVGID and other special districts from doing what I” feared would come to pass?
Well what I warned has now become reality. Last February IVGID amended its budget to increase the transfer of our Rec Fee moneys (by some $303,000) to its General Fund to cover this year's loss of revenue as a result of these tax refunds (in other words, those moneys were not needed for “recreation”). And in May the fire district increased the tax rate it assesses local properties for the same purpose. So what are local property owners left with? Higher Rec Fees and property taxes than we otherwise would have if there had been no tax refunds.
In response to the tax rate increase, fire board member Don Epstein said “I don't think we have a choice.” Wayne Fischer (another fire district and Village League Board member) has pointed the finger of blame at the County: “Washoe County has put us in a difficult situation.”
Let the record show that the county did not put IVGID and the Fire District in “difficult situations.” Chuck Otto, Wayne Fischer, Maryanne Ingemanson and the rest of their Village League comrades have. Although they started the job, in the end they dropped the ball.
And let the record also show that these higher taxes won't be one-time events. IVGID and the fire district stand to reap increased revenues for decades to come (long after their current budget shortfalls are covered), all at local property owners' expense. Thank you Village League — job well done!
— Aaron Katz is an Incline Village resident.