Douglas, backers of Indian Hills incorporation plan butt heads

Douglas County officials and residents seeking to incorporate Indian Hills as a city butted heads in a Senate committee hearing Wednesday.

The subject was SB144, which supporters say would protect the East Fork Fire Protection District and the county's redevelopment agency from the financial effects of creating a city in Douglas County.

Fire officials including East Fork Chief Todd Carlini said existing state law blocks them from collecting taxes within the new city's limits as soon as it is incorporated, which would cut into their budget and make it difficult to provide fire services in northern Douglas County.

Indian Hills General Improvement District Manager JIm Bentley testified SB144 isn't necessary because the impact on the fire district can be worked out between the local governments involved.

Most of the testimony centered on potential damage to the fire protection district. But the area contributes only about 4 percent of the district's budget.

The real issue, according to those involved, is the tax money which now goes to the redevelopment agency.

The new city includes the area containing several major retail stores at the north end of Douglas County.

County Manager Dan Holler and lobbyist Mary Walker said after the hearing the new city would need the tax money in order to have a sound financial base.

Holler said that can't happen because the money is already committed to debt service and other operations of the redevelopment agency which created that retail development zone.

"It's a money grab," Walker said.

Bentley, one of the movers in the push to create a city there, said the proposed bill would deny the new city and its council the right to make important decisions about services for their residents. He said the city council would be willing to negotiate with the county on those issues, but if SB144 becomes law, there would be no reason for the county or fire district to negotiate "because this says they don't have to."

Nancy Howard of the Nevada League of Cities said that organization opposes the legislation because it would "eliminate basic rights of a new city." She urged lawmakers to wait for the legislation enabling creation of a new city and review the situation with all the information on the table.


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