Incline Village General Improvement District trustees move to pay back taxes on lots
April 13, 2018
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The improvement district here has agreed to pay back taxes to Washoe County on three unbuildable lots that were transferred to the district and then sold.
On a 3-2 vote Wednesday, April 11, the Incline Village General Improvement District Board of Trustees moved to pay back $33,177.81 in delinquent taxes on three parcels. However, $31,584 of the delinquent taxes were for recreation and beach fees, according to district staff, meaning the net cost of the payment is only $1,593.81.
The lots — which were among 87 tax delinquent parcels acquired by IVGID from Washoe County at no cost in 2012 — became a public point of controversy in late 2017.
IVGID sold three of the lots, deemed unbuildable, in 2014 and 2015 for $47,190. District officials say the lots were sold so IVGID could start collecting recreation fees from the owners. Since the parcels were unbuildable, the land would remain "open space."
However, the transaction drew scrutiny from the Washoe County District Attorney's Office, which sent a letter to the district in December 2017 stating, among other things, that IVGID could either "unwind the property sales to private individuals and continue to maintain these parcels as open space," or it could pay the total amount of delinquent taxes owed in 2012.
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Washoe County waived the taxes when it transferred the parcels to IVGID in 2012.
Washoe County Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler, who asked the district attorney to review the sales, also criticized the transaction.
IVGID's general counsel Jason Guinasso shot back saying the DA's office had mischaracterized the ordeal.
"This argument appears to hinge on your stated assumption that IVGID somehow misrepresented the purposes for which it acquired the Bitterbrush properties. This assumption is false. No misrepresentation about the purposes for acquiring the property [was] made at the time of the acquisition or anytime thereafter," Guinasso wrote.
Several members of the public, including Sara Schmitz, who is running for one of the two seats on the IVGID board, urged trustees to postpone any decision on paying the taxes so that the district could do more research on whether it was liable for paying the taxes.
Board Chair Kendra Wong, who is running for re-election, noted that staff time spent investigating the claims made by those in the audience could cost more than the net $1,593.81 paid to the county.
Circling back to the net cost, Wong said it was a small price to pay for something in the past that may or may not have been a mistake.
Vice Chairman Philip Horan stated he wanted to see some form of memorialized agreement with the county that it would reimburse IVGID the $31,584.
Trustee Tim Callicrate, who also is running for re-election, and Trustee Matthew Dent voted against paying the county.
The Associated Press and Tribune Editor Ryan Hoffman contributed to this report.
CORRECTION: This article incorrectly identified IVGID’s general counsel as Christopher Hicks. Jason Guinasso is the district’s general counsel.