Tax decisions due to hard work

INCLINE VILLAGE - Resident Les Barta couldn't be more excited about the outcome regarding property tax assessments on the North Shore.

"We laid the foundation, we presented the facts and we cited the laws," said Barta, a member of the Village League to Save Incline Assets, a local group protesting its property tax assessments. "We told the truth very convincingly. It was a huge hurdle and we overcame it."

The Washoe County Board of Equalization voted unanimously last week to lift the 8 percent addition to the land tax assessment for all of the mass appellants, and it voted county assessors were not using the new assessment rules and regulations passed Aug. 4.

"There were two very strong rulings. If they stand, everyone will benefit from them," Barta said.

But John Faulkner, the chief deputy assessor for Washoe County, has reservations about Thursday's win.

"The board only acted on those (petitions) before them," he said. "We can't make any changes to other properties."

Faulkner said he doesn't know what the board of equalization members were thinking when they made their decision.

"My personal opinion is - and I can't read into the board's mind - that they won because it's a tax-revolt political climate right now. A lot of people are concerned right now."

Barta and other league members have been getting telephone calls from people who want to know how they managed it.

Village League members Todd Lowe, Maryanne Ingemanson and Barta made the primary presentations on behalf of the league.

Barta said Lowe gave "a brilliant summary of the history of our tax laws and why things have gone so wrong in Washoe County."

He spoke about land values being assessed way beyond what was intended by the 1981 tax law. Lowe also compared Incline Village tax rates to those in Douglas County, and he spoke about the "market-value philosophy" adapted by Washoe County since 1981.

Barta attributes the board's decisions to its no longer being under control of the assessor's office.

"They were fair and unbiased," he said.

League members overcame Washoe County's "institutionalized errors." Sixteen of the state's 17 counties followed the law, Barta said. "Washoe County has to follow the law, and not make it up," he said.

League members are hoping the Nevada Tax Commission will correct the over-values.

"Incline Village has had a much higher burden despite increased land values," he added. "At this point, we are examining our options."


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