Guinn rejects special session on property taxes
August 2, 2004
Will look at proposal for tax cap at 2005 legislative session
By Jack Carrerow
Tribune News Service
CARSON CITY – Gov. Kenny Guinn has rejected a call for a special session to deal with a cap on property taxes, saying it can be addressed at the beginning of the 2005 legislative session.
The governor’s spokesman, Greg Bortolin, added that Guinn, who got a request last week from some Republican legislators for a special session, “isn’t hearing enough of a justification of this issue for him to call a special session.”
Ted Harris, a member of the Village League to Save Incline Assets, the group that has been lobbying for a tax change for the past year-and-a-half, said that the governor has assured the citizens that this issue would take first priority at the next Legislature in February.
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In Douglas County, property owners learned in June that there would be a 20 to 30 percent spike in their property tax bill next year because of adjusments ordered by the state’s taxation board.
The special-session request came from state Sen. Ann O’Connell, R-Las Vegas, and Assemblyman David Brown, R-Henderson.
They wrote that Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, also supports the session to impose a 6 percent cap on annual property tax increases.
O’Connell said the 6 percent cap, first proposed by Clark County Assessor Mark Schofield, needs to be implemented now. She said that waiting until the 2005 session may be too late to head off big tax increases for homeowners.
Hettrick said if the Legislature waits until next year and tries to head off the big property tax hikes taking effect July 1, then rollbacks would be necessary, creating huge problems for county assessors and local government budgets.
Hettrick said a one- to three-day special session, at a cost of $50,000 to $150,000, would allow the cap to be put in place, protecting homeowners from big tax increases. It would also let local governments better plan their budgets without fear of future rollbacks.
The property tax issue could then be debated at length in the 2005 session without causing hardships either to homeowners or local governments, he said.
The proposed cap would limit the growth of a total property tax bill to 6 percent per year no matter how much of an increase in property value had occurred.
Currently there’s a six percent growth cap on only about a third of the various tax rates that determine a property tax bill, the rates that support a governing entity’s operating budget. Not covered by the existing cap are the tax rates for the support of such things as schools, bond redemption, state capital improvements or municipal pools.
– The Associated Press contributed to this story.