Legislator calls for property tax freeze | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Legislator calls for property tax freeze

Elaine Goodman

MINDEN – Nevada Senate minority leader Dina Titus has proposed a one-year freeze on property taxes as a way to give property owners some tax relief while a longer-term solution is devised.

During a meeting Monday of the Douglas County Democratic Women, Titus, D-Las Vegas, said the Legislature was looking at 14 different property tax proposals, each of them complex. But time is of the essence, Titus said, if property owners are to get a break on their next bills, which assessors send out in June.

“We have to find an answer in the next three weeks,” Titus said to the audience of about 40 gathered in the Douglas High School library.

With property values soaring in areas including Lake Tahoe, property owners have been hit with skyrocketing tax bills, Titus said. Property owners on fixed incomes, seniors in particular, are struggling to pay.

The value of property on the Lake Tahoe side of Douglas County could increase as much as 60 percent this year unless the Legislature takes action. The Nevada Tax Commission agreed in October to raise the land value of properties by 45 percent along Kingsbury Grade and 60 percent along Highway 50 on the Lake Tahoe side of Douglas County.

A temporary freeze may be enough to head off efforts to put a property tax limit similar to California’s Proposition 13 on the Nevada ballot, Titus said.

A too-severe limit would curtail programs that are funded by property tax, she said.

At least one person at the meeting liked the idea of a tax freeze.

“Maybe you should suggest a two-year freeze and let them bump you back to one year,” a woman in the audience suggested.

As a longer-term solution to the property tax issue, Titus said she didn’t think taxing commercial and residential property at different rates would gain enough support. Such a proposal would be opposed by business interests including chambers of commerce, she said.

More promising, Titus said, would be a plan to tax property that’s used as a second home at a higher rate than property that is used by its owner as a primary residence.

Such a plan would require an amendment to the state Constitution.

Titus also discussed her plans to run for governor next year, saying she thought Republican Congressman Jim Gibbons, another expected candidate, could be defeated.

Describing Gibbons as “out of touch,” Titus said: “While he’s been on the back bench in Washington, I’ve been on the front lines in the state.”

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