Incline property tax advocates appeal ruling to state high court

As a result of what some are calling a catch-22, the Village League to Save Incline Assets appealed to the state Supreme Court Friday to overturn a Washoe County district judge's decision to dismiss a lawsuit challenging property tax assessment methods used by the county assessor.

The lawsuit was dismissed because the group did not follow established procedure in challenging the assessments, according to Deputy District Attorney Greg Shannon.

"This is a big catch-22," said Les Barta, a director of the Village League. "The State Board of Equalization and the county Board of Equalization both refused to consider the issues in the first place. We're outraged, because we have very legitimate claims. Why would the judge force us down a dead-end street?"

The issues not considered by the boards of equalization include tax regulation violations, faulty assessor appraisal methods and that Incline Village's property is assessed 70 percent higher than equally valued property in Douglas County, Barta said.

"(Boards of equalization) won't equalize the biggest equalization issues of all," he said. "People feel they can't do anything, no matter where they turn."

Maryanne Ingemanson, president of the Village League, added that it was absolutely necessary to take the case to the Supreme Court.

"Hopefully, they will effectively realize there's no way one can appeal errors and mistakes made by the State Department of Taxation, because there are no rules and statutes to say to which body you can appeal something done incorrectly," Ingemanson said. "That's why we have to take it to court."

"These people are free to appeal, but it's a waste of time," Shannon said. "The law is well established, and you have to go through the administrative steps."

Shannon said the Village League tried to ignore the first two steps in the process, going first to the county and state boards of equalization before it addressed the district court.

"They can't side-step in the process," he said. "The boards aren't in existence to be roadblocks. They have an important function - to develop the facts."

A date has not been scheduled yet to hear the appeal, but Village League members said they expect a court date in the next few months.


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