Douglas Commission vows to fight property reassessments

STATELINE - Faced with angry residents who have learned their property-tax bills may go up as much as 60 percent this year, Douglas County leaders agreed Thursday to take the issue to the Nevada Association of Counties for help.

And at least one commissioner said if that doesn't work, the county may take it to the 2005 Legislature.

Following an hourlong discussion in Stateline that brought its share of angry complaints and comparisons to the Boston Tea Party, Douglas County commissioners said their hands may be tied but they will try to fight the reassessment of property at higher values on the Lake Tahoe side of the county.

If approved by the Nevada Tax Commission, appraised land values would increase by 45 percent along Kingsbury Grade and 60 percent along Highway 50.

Commissioner James Baushke said he will take the issue before the Nevada Association of Counties this or next week. If that doesn't work, Commissioner Tim Smith said he's willing to take the issue to the Legislature.

Residents said the tax proposal is unfair and smacks of California property tax laws.

"I understand the dilemma, the impotence of the commission to do something, but it would appear the tax commission has arbitrarily and capriciously changed the rules, a result of the shortage of funds for the state," said Stateline resident Jim Beatty. "We all should do what we can to prevent the ultimate resolution, a Prop 13 in Nevada, but if this does not change, that will happen."

Marla Bay resident Chris Converse lives in a lakeside log cabin her grandfather purchased in 1925.

"It was the second place built in Marla Bay. It's been in the family for three generations," she said. "The old log cabin would cost $10,000 to haul away. We already pay $13,000 in property taxes annually, but if we had to pay $26,000, we'd have to sell."

"If this (tax increase) is not changed, that will happen," she said.

Lake resident Robert Balfanz said costs are spiraling out of control.

"Whatever happened to the idea of saying no," he said. "Unless we stand up and forcefully say no, this is going to continue. I urge you to take that tack."

Douglas County Assessor Doug Sonnemann announced last month the county will increase property values by 45 percent along Kingsbury Grade and up to 60 percent along Highway 50.

Appraisals by the county were last done for the region in 2000 and 2001. Sonnemann said there hasn't been a need for large-scale property reassessments because there haven't been enough land sales on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe to justify the increases.

- Tahoe Daily Tribune City Editor Jeff Munson contributed to this report.


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