I have been Johnnie-One-Note on the subject of AB 46, a measure that would provide money for Washoe County school building maintenance by raising our property taxes $0.05 and our sales tax by a quarter cent.
My hostility stems from the Washoe School District’s refusal to allocate any part of its operating budget to building maintenance.
Instead they siphon funds from school bond proceeds which property owners are already paying for. Not surprisingly they spent all that money and are now rattling their tin cup looking for more despite the fact that the district will be receiving an additional $60 million over the next biennium.
The property tax proposal would override two taxpayer protection laws: a $3.64 maximum per hundred assessed value and the 3 percent annual cap on increases.
Assemblyman Randy Kirner has been indispensable to this bill. As amended it would delegate the power to impose the tax increases to the Washoe County Commission. As of this writing Governor Sandoval has not signaled whether or not he will veto the bill.
Having said all this, in the interest of fairness here is Assemblyman Kirner’s explanation for his support of AB 46:
“I should start by thanking you for your emails. I know the Americans for Prosperity sent an email blast to their distribution list. I am fortunate to have friends who respect me enough to express their displeasure while I know there are many others who have not. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed in some of the emails. Rather than asking me about my vote on AB46, most were rather accusatory and pernicious.
“The Americans for Prosperity email was simply false and distorted the facts. I don’t believe we have acted to pervert the 2/3rds vote on new taxes as required by law. We can argue whether the school district needs the money but that wasn’t the criticism in the emails. To put the facts in order, the body was being asked to vote on a county specific tax, that is, Clark County legislators were being asked to vote on taxing Washoe County residents. Not unprecedented for sure, but there are other factors such as the property tax portion of the bill would exceed the $3.64 set maximum. For these reasons and a because some of us were concerned the bill was headed towards being end-of-session trade bait, Pat Hickey and I felt an amendment was appropriate sending the issue to Washoe County Commissioners, all elected and local officials, to decide the question. “Enabling” legislation for counties is not unusual. Since our duty calls for such legislation imposing taxes to be a 2/3rds vote, we felt it appropriate to require a 2/3rds vote of the Commissioners essentially four of the five commissioners. I would have personally preferred a vote of the people but was unsuccessful pushing this agenda.
“The bill was a very complex bill and the process here is knotty as well. I did not vote to raise taxes. I have not ignored the 2012 Nevada Republican Platform. I am not encouraging an “end-run.” Our party is about many things and has many constituencies. My duty is to represent the people of my district, all of them.
“If any of you would like to meet after the session to examine my record or discuss my representation of constituents, I am more than happy to do so. I firmly believe I have acted with utmost regard for the voters. Respectfully, Randy”.
I know Randy has anguished over this bill and that his constituents are equally divided. Whatever the outcome I recognize that he is sincere in his belief that this measure is the best of bad alternatives for Washoe County residents.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates and has served on the Washoe County & Nevada State GOP Central Committees; he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.