Push to incorporate depends on Incline Village residents
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Todd Lowe was rowing his dingy around Lake Tahoe when he came upon locals pouring buckets of lake water back into the lake as a metaphorical Tahoe Tea Party revolt against the unfair property taxes placed on Incline Village homeowners.
“That was the beginning of the Nevada Property Tax Revolt,” said Lowe, the now president of The Village League.
The League was originally started by the late Maryanne Ingemanson and Ted Harris, who Lowe happened upon at the Burnt Cedar Beach back in 2003. The need for the League arose after a Washoe County tax assessor developed a number of appraisal methods that were only applied in Incline Village and Crystal Bay, which resulted in an average of 213% higher property taxes in the year of 2002.
“Everyone who owned property in [the two districts] paid property taxes paid at a rate that nobody else in Nevada would see for 35 years in the future.”
The nonprofit, run completely by volunteers and donated funds from community members, has been dealing with the situation now for 20 years, and as a result, over $100 million of illegally collected excess taxes have been returned, with more on the way and the property tax assessment back to where it should be.
But Lowe and the other volunteers didn’t see this win as the end to the needs for Incline Village and Crystal Bay residents.
“We’ve been looking at what’s been going on around us and what we see is community members working together to solve local problems, but seemingly always failing,” said Lowe. “They just don’t get to their objectives.”
Examples of issues that are high priority in Incline Village and Crystal Bay that fall mainly under Washoe County control include the lack of housing and disputes with short term rentals, disagreements on local development projects, and the recent loss of the constable’s position at the Incline Village Justice Court.
“Our Board of Directors came together and decided, yes, we think we owe it to our community to help out, and let’s do it and get it done right this time,” said Lowe.
Lowe clarified that the League is presenting an opportunity to residents in the IV/CB area, but it’s up to the residents to vote and decide if incorporating into a city is what they would like.
“In order to elicit feedback and also draw out your dissenting voices, you have to make a proposition,” Lowe said. “So we made a proposition … and sure enough, it had the desired effect. So people are coming out to say yay or nay, and thankfully, a good number of the people that are stepping forward are raising their hands and saying, ‘How can I help? I want to be a part of this. What do I have to do to make sure this happens, because it would be really important for our community.’
“So we’re hearing more of that than anything,” he added. “What we’re making is an opportunity. We’re doing all the homework, we’re doing all the head-scratching, we’re doing all the calculations, we’re collecting all of the data and we’re assembling that into a petition people can sign or not.”
Once the petition is potentially finished, the League will step away. What follows is a ballot measure, which requires the registered voters of the IV/CB areas to go out and vote if the measure should make the ballot.
There are few concerns that have been brought to the attention of Lowe and the League since announcing the upcoming petition, with the first being a fear that this might not be the better option for the districts.
Lowe’s response is simple: “If it doesn’t work out after, we’ll say a number of years, we’ll pick up the banner and disincorporate ourselves.”
A follow up question that has been voiced is why not invest in becoming a county rather than incorporating into a city. Lowe explained that the process would not only be longer, but more difficult due to the legislative steps that would need to be taken in order to create an entirely new county.
“We haven’t had a new county for over a hundred years in this state,” said Lowe, “And every other attempt to do that has not succeeded.”
Incorporating as a city, according to Lowe, would prove to be the easier route, and would still provide Washoe County funds that are already allocated for the two districts, allowing autonomy on decisions that are currently made by the Washoe County Board of Commissioners.
Lowe is excited for the next steps and the future of the district he raised his children in and has fought for for the last 20 years.
“The petition will be a real milestone for this community, because if the community signs the petition, and we send that on to Washoe County to conduct the next steps, that would be absolutely huge,” Lowe said. “So what we’re hoping for is that we’ll do a good enough job that the community will say, ‘I want that,’ and then they’ll carry it forward.”
To read the full list of frequently asked questions and learn more about the project, visit cityofinclinevillage.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.