Other Views: Tax relief should happen at home
Anti-tax sentiment, which until recently hardly registered a blip on the radar screen of Nevada politics, is beginning to show some signs of acceptance in the Silver State.
Two citizen-backed anti-tax measures may find their way to the state ballot this year through the citizen-initiative process.
One proposition, championed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beers, seeks to limit annual increases in state spending to population growth and inflation.
The other measure, proposed by Republican congressional candidate Sharon Angle, is a much more draconian proposal inspired by California Proposition 13 and Oregon Ballot Measure 5. This Nevada version of this measure would cap property taxes at 1 percent of a property’s base value or cash value in the event that a property is sold.
No doubt, the increasing appeal of these measures arises to some extent from the rapidly escalating property values in Nevada, especially in Las Vegas, Reno and around Lake Tahoe.
Values in those areas have skyrocketed the past five years, fueled, in part, by speculative forces reminiscent of the greed that preceded the stock market “bubble” of the late 1990s. In fact, it was millionaire property owners from Nevada’s high-rent districts who led the charge on property tax “reform” in the 2005 Nevada Legislative Assembly. People from Fallon, Fernley, Lovelock, Elko, Hawthorne and Ely were noticeably absent from the debate in Carson City because compared to their well-heeled neighbors. property taxes are a non-starter.
Assuming that Beers and Angle are successful in their campaigns to deliver property tax reductions to their rich constituents, we hope that voters in the rural districts take the time to educate themselves about the true costs and benefits of property tax measures with arbitrary limits. Take a drive over the hill to Sacramento, where the roads are in such bad shape that a pothole may knock off an axle and wipe out your property tax relief. Visit any of California’s public schools to witness firsthand the overcrowding, outdated books and worn-out equipment. Talk to some county commissioners who are cutting juvenile and domestic violence programs, scaling back road, sewer and water line repairs and maintenance. Visit with everyday citizens who are concerned about dilapidated infrastructure and reduced services, people who would gladly support a tax increase if their hands hadn’t been tied by a statewide measure that precludes local options.
Property tax relief may be a good deal for the owner of a $5 million home at Incline Village, who may realize enough savings for an extra trip to Maui. But the $200 savings in property tax on a three-bedroom home in Fallon isn’t such a hot deal for a family trying to put a couple of kids through school.
The place to achieve property real and responsible tax relief is through participation in local government by attending city council, school board and county commission meetings and demanding that elected leaders be prudent with the people’s money.
– From the Lahontan Valley News in Fallon, Nev.
“The champagne is on ice.” That’s the sentiment Maryanne Ingemanson left as she grabbed her clutch, adjusted her cream suit jacket and left the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza building in Incline Village on Friday afternoon after a 120-minute interview session.
She was headed to her granddaughter’s graduation in Reno that evening.
“I still do have a life you know,” Ingemanson smiled. “And that includes grandmotherly duties.”
Of course, if you work for the county assessor’s office, the image of Ingemanson, the grandmother, is hardly what comes to mind.
“Ha, I don’t know what to say about her that won’t get me into trouble,” assessor Bob McGowan told the Bonanza during a January interview. “How about persistent. Actually, is there a word for ‘a-lot-more-than persistent’.”
Indeed, Ingemanson has won plaudits from friends and foes alike. Her four-years in leading the battle to win back property taxes for some 8,700 Incline Village/Crystal Bay landowners will come to an abrupt, and if the tax revolters are to be believed, victorious end Thursday when the state supreme court will begin deliberation to uphold judge William Maddox’s January decision that the state board of equalization did not equalize property taxes in the area, and that the county assessor was not using approved rules for assessment.
If the decision comes down on the side of the tax revolters, the 8,700 landowners could be getting a cumulative rebate of some $30 million, revolters maintain.
The revolters have made national news, and may spark similar reform/protest groups in other states.
While Ingemanson, as the group’s figurehead and most ardent worker, does deserve much of the credit, she defers all she can to the community that surrounded her.
From the original 14 tax revolters (“all with unique talents”) seeing the process through year after year, tax bill after tax bill, to the 2,600 Incline property owners who signed a petition to take to the state department of taxation (and the men, Ted Harris, Les Barta and Chuck Otto, who collected those signatures, to the thousands of dollars in donations from local property owners to foot the $25,000 per month legal bills – Incline’s revolters are, in the words of Ingemanson, “the strongest group I’ve ever been affiliated with. And we won’t go away.”
We laud their efforts and hope that after the supreme court decision, these dedicated tax revolters can go back to simply being fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, after – that is – they hear the corks pop.
– From the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza in Incline Village.