Incline Village/Crystal Bay residents discussing possible settlement with Washoe County in tax battle
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Incline Village residents are attempting to work with Washoe County commissioners to prevent a 16-year tax battle from continuing to drag on.
After a judge ruled in October 2019 that Washoe County must repay thousands of dollars of unconstitutional assessments to Incline Village and Crystal Bay residents, Washoe County commission voted to appeal the decision.
This decision angered many of Washoe County’s Lake Tahoe residents because not only would this extend the battle, which has been going since the early 2000’s, but would cost taxpayers even more money.
“The trouble with this is that it’s a meritless case, it’s likely they’ll lose it and it places a huge burden on the taxpayers in Washoe County,” said Todd Lowe, President of the Village League to Save Incline Assets, the group that filed the lawsuit against the county. “It takes about three years to go through a supreme court case and based on what they’re doing now, they’re looking at spending, or wasting I should say, about $15 million fighting an unwinnable case on the back of Washoe County taxpayers.”
Since the commission announced their decision to appeal, Lowe has sat down with commissioners on several occasions to try to work out a settlement.
According to Lowe, Washoe County District Court Judge Kathleen Drakulich’s ruling gave the county one year to refund property taxes from 2003-2006.
“[The settlement] gives them some breathing room,” Lowe said. “We’ve actually said, ‘you can pay this back not in one year but you can take two or three years.’ It facilitates better cash flow management and budget certainty for the county.”
Lowe also said the settlement would allow the community to heal and end a 16-year battle.
“Washoe County has engaged in informal discussions with principals of taxpayer groups in the Incline Village and Crystal Bay areas to explore a settlement,” said Eric Brown, Washoe County Manager, in a statement to the Tribune. “Should a settlement be reached, each side will need the approval of their governing boards to end the litigation.”
While the county won’t say which way its leaning, Lowe does feel like they are moving in a positive direction with the talks.
Lowe also encourages residents to continue reaching out to commissioners to let them know how they feel about the issue.