Senator wants pro-business amendment on Nevada tax bill

A Republican senator's plan to attach a pro-business amendment to a property tax relief bill passed by the Nevada Assembly appears to be gaining momentum - complicating efforts to get the plan to the governor's desk by Thursday.

In the face of aggressive lobbying from the business community, Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, is proposing to limit property tax increases for commercial property and some residential property.

Under the Assembly-approved tax relief bill, commercial properties would see average increases ranging from 8 to 13 percent.

Hardy said Wednesday he'd like to see an 8 percent ceiling on commercial property tax increases, but expected some negotiation on that number. He said there's no need to go any higher.

Hardy said that under his proposal rural counties wouldn't suffer and growth in property tax revenue would be the lowest in Clark County and Las Vegas. "Frankly, they ought to tighten their belts anyway," he added.

Under the Assembly plan, AB469, single-family, owner-occupied homes would see a 3 percent cap on property tax increases. All other property - largely commercial property and some homes - would see tax increases of no more than the 10-year average rate of increase or twice the cost-of-living, whichever provides more relief.

With an 8 percent cap, Clark County would see a 7.2 percent increase in property tax revenue growth. The Assembly bill allows 8.8 percent of growth. Las Vegas also would see a 7.2 percent increase in property tax revenue growth, compared with an 8.4 percent increase under the Assembly bill.

Rural counties would get slightly more property tax revenue under Hardy's amendment than under the Assembly bill.

Democrats in the Senate said there's strong support in their caucus for a 10 percent cap on business property cap increases.

"I think the Hardy amendment (at 10 percent) will pass with a bipartisan vote," said Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas. Titus said she wants to see data on how an 8 percent limit would affect local governments.

If Hardy's amendment passes, it will likely spark a bidding war with the Assembly, said Assembly Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville. He said his primary concern is the bill's affect on local and school budgets.

"I don't have opposition to it, except they can't break the county governments, they can't break the distributive school account," he said. Hettrick said that if the impact is minimal it'll be hard for lawmakers to fight against a tax break for business.

"I don't see how you can say no," he said.

Titus said she still plans to introduce her own amendment, which would freeze homeowners' tax bills for one year.

Hardy said he expects a vote on the bill, with any amendment, on Thursday - the lawmakers' deadline for final action on a relief plan.

"If we're 24 hours away from something that will protect business, I think that's 24 hours well spent," he said.


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