On Politics: Possible property tax increase on fall ballot (opinion)
I’ll start with the bottom line: There will be a question on the November ballot that would boost property taxes on the median price Incline Village/Crystal Bay home somewhere around $65.00 per year; it also would eliminate caps on that tax increase and make a shambles of the statutory $3.64 maximum consolidated property tax rate in Nevada.
If approved, bonds in the amount of $400 million will be issued which, according to KRNV News, “could potentially secure an additional $182 million in federal funding.” That’s the good news. Your blood will boil when you hear the rest of the story.
Floods have been around since Noah’s ark. In America when you put “flood” in the same sentence as “Congress” it triggers pathetic shrieks of victims asking for money. In 1979 Congress called a halt to flood disaster funding and established the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Flood-prone areas in the U.S. were mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If your property was located in a 100-year flood zone you couldn’t get a mortgage from a federally insured financial institution without taking out flood insurance.
In December 1996 heavy snows hit the Sierra followed by a series of warm rainstorms from Hawaii. Snowmelt poured into the Truckee River, flotsam piled up at the old Virginia Street Bridge and backed up the flow, which spilled over the banks and made a wading pond of downtown Reno and the Sparks industrial area.
In 1998 the county sales tax was raised 1/8 of a cent to pay for a study of flood control options and to replace the Virginia Street Bridge. In 2017, spearheaded by State Senator Julia Ratti (D-Sparks) and Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle (D-Reno), the Legislature appointed a Truckee River Flood Control Projects Needs Committee consisting of … surprise … State Senator Julia Ratti and Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle; no one from the southern or northern Washoe County suburbs, no one from Incline/Crystal Bay and no Republican legislators.
Other committee appointees represented the Reno Chamber of Commerce, the NV Association of Realtors, the city of Sparks, the city of Reno and the AFL/CIO. The committee was permitted to consider increased or new property taxes, real estate transfer taxes, vehicle registration taxes or room taxes. Surprise No. 2: The committee picked a property tax increase. Why? Because all other options “gored” at least one committee member’s “ox.”
“We have developed a 100-year program that will basically protect us from all the known floods that have hit this area since records have been kept in the early 1900s,” committee Executive Director Jay Aldean told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It is a local plan that we put together ourselves.”
It sure looks home grown! It actually includes an allocation to “raise (not raze) homes within the home elevation project boundaries” according to KRON TV.
Although the multi-storm winter of 2017 and the “miracle March” of 2018 did not cause the Truckee River to flood downtown again, there was catastrophic flooding in Lemmon Valley where streets remain under water and south suburban Reno where creeks and irrigation ditches overflowed inundating homes and ranches. So this $400 million and maybe some federal funding will fix all that, right?
Wrong! Not one penny of the bond sale proceeds can be spent outside the Truckee River flood zone (where it didn’t flood in recent storms). However, Lemmon Valley owners get to pay for this fiasco (unless their assessed values go to zero because they need a row boat to get to the market). South Reno and Incline/Crystal Bay properties get to pay, too.
How about flood insurance? A $250,000 home would cost $386 per year. A $500,000 industrial building $2,646 per year according to the NFIP.
But the “good old boys” downtown don’t want to pay for it any more. They want us to pay.
This measure will be on your November ballot.
For or against?
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada State GOP Central committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.