Why Incline Village residents don’t get what they want (Opinion)
LAYERS OF GOVERNMENT
IVGID. Crystal Bay Development Company (a group of investors) procured land from owner George Whittell to create Incline Village within Washoe County, Nev. In 1961, Washoe County created the Incline Village General Improvement District to levy taxes to pay for “improvements.”
IVGID issued bonds to build and manage all utilities in the village. Later, IVGID was given permission to build and manage parks and recreational facilities in the village. The IVGID Board of Trustees governs utilities (including trash), parks and recreation.
All other governmental functions — police, judiciary, assessor, clerk, building and engineering, health, library, roads, treasurer, etc., remain under Washoe County management and control. Washoe County has a 5-member board of commissioners overseeing all county departments that provide these government services for Incline Village. Incline fire protection is provided by the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, which is separate from Washoe County.
Incline Village is located in the Tahoe Basin, which is under the authority of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. This bi-state organization came into existence in 1969 and reports to the California and Nevada State Legislatures, which provide much of its funding. TRPA’s mission is to protect the environment of the Lake Tahoe Basin through regulations of water, air, and land use; so Incline Village property development and other land projects must be reviewed and approved by TRPA.
INCLINE VILLAGE ELECTED OFFICIALS
IVGID has a 5-member board of trustees and a general manager to oversee all matters pertaining to utilities, trash, parks and recreation. Incline voters elect these trustees, who appoint the GM.
Voters in each of the five Washoe County districts elect one commissioner to the board of commissioners. Incline Village voters in District 1 vote on one commissioner for the board. Incline residents comprise 20% of District 1, so their minority vote is unlikely to decide who is elected. The District 1 commissioner is their only elected representative for all government functions except those delegated to IVGID.
LACKING ELECTORAL CONTROL OVER GOVERNMENT OFFICALS
Incline Village government is layered and compartmentalized, but the reason Incline residents don’t get what they want is because residents do not elect their government representatives. They do not elect TRPA officials. They elect IVGID trustees to govern issues of utilities, parks, and recreation. But the District 1 commissioner for whom they vote in the minority, and the four commissioners for whom they don’t vote, govern all other issues pertaining to Incline Village. Any approval by the board of commissioners requires a majority vote.
In theory, the government is established to create and enforce laws for the benefit and protection of citizens. Elected officials who fail to do so are voted out. And in theory, governments are structured to provide continuity so that the will of the governed is carried out over time even as officials come and go.
But in Incline Village, residents do not have electoral control over their government officials. The District 1 commissioner they vote for does not have a majority vote on the board. Residents are dependent upon the beneficence of the other four Washoe County commissioners whom they do not elect.
Incline Village residents have few ways to force Washoe County commissioners to act in their best interests be it preventing unfair taxation, a cell tower in the middle of town, a bus hub in the village center, or short-term-rentals throughout their residential neighborhoods. They can provide their governing officials with suggestions and make their opinions and preferences known; but, in the final analysis, until they elect the officials who govern them, Incline residents likely won’t get what they want.
Ronda Tycer is an Incline Village resident.
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