Frank Wright

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October 2, 2013
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Guest Column: A farewell to Bill Horn

Ted Fuller’s “Ode to Bill Horn” (Sept. 26, 2013, Bonanza) is not only pathetic, it’s untrue. Mr. Fuller states that “in (his) career (he has) been fortunate to work … with … a few capable people who … gave … the impression … they knew what they were about and …Bill Horn is one of” them.

I agree Mr. Horn is a master at giving such “impressions.” But once one begins separating the wheat from the chaff, one learns impressions can be deceiving. And in my opinion, this explains Mr. Horn.

Mr. Horn is the architect of much which is wrong with our community. In the last 11 years, he has caused IVGID operations to lose a whopping $65 million. If you’re a local property owner then you know what I am talking about because that’s what you’ve been involuntarily assessed in Rec Fees.

And yet Mr. Horn, the ultimate spin master, asserts “the District is meeting its financial targets … (and) outperforming (last year’s) … operating income budgets.”

Mr. Fuller tells us that one of the measures he uses to define success “is by the numbers.” So let’s look at the numbers.

The District’s financial targets call for nearly $7 million annually in bottom line losses, system wide. In order to balance his 13 years worth of budgetary losses, Mr. Horn has spearheaded Rec Fee increases from $300 in 2000 to the current $830.

And to demonstrate the folly of Mr. Horn’s spin, I ask three simple questions: First, if we’re outperforming last year’s operating income budgets, how come my Rec Fee hasn’t gone down?

Second, if $85 of last year’s Rec Fee went to pay for the servicing of 2003 recreation bonds, and those bonds were retired in March of this year (which they were), then how come my Rec Fee wasn’t reduced by a like amount?

And finally, how come you’re admittedly paid more in salary and benefits than 43 state governors, including the governor of Nevada? These are “the numbers.”

It appears Mr. Fuller believes Mr. Horn’s spin that IVGID is “above the required financial strength (of) any … governmental entit(y) in the State.”

The only reason IVGID continues to exist, is because unlike any other governmental entity in the state, it involuntarily assesses an invalid special tax against real property. But according to Mr. Horn, it’s really not a “tax.” Rather, it’s a “fee” — our Rec Fee.

Silly me. I didn’t realize that using a different “label” differentiated the two.

Do you realize that if Washoe County involuntarily assessed each parcel within its borders (as does IVGID), and it called the “tax” a “fee,” it would generate an additional $140 million annually? In other words, budget losses of the last several years would instantly turn into surpluses!

So why doesn’t any other governmental entity in the state follow Mr. Horn’s lead? Because they know it’s impermissible.

So I say enjoy the next chapter of your life at local property owners’ expense, Mr. Horn, given the massive retirement parachute we’ve involuntarily funded through our Rec Fees.

And as the Board considers Mr. Horn’s replacement, let it learn from Mr. Horn and not repeat this very expensive mistake.

I say that instead of thanking Mr. Horn for all he has done, we say good riddance!

Frank Wright is a Crystal Bay resident.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Oct 2, 2013 06:00PM Published Oct 2, 2013 01:50PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.