Supervisors refuse to endorse property tax bill

Carson City supervisors refused to endorse a draft bill Thursday that would give Nevada counties the power to raise property taxes above the tax cap without voter approval.

The bill, sponsored by the Nevada Association of Counties for the 2009 Legislature, would give county boards the ability to raise property taxes up to 10 cents for every $100 of assessed value to help public safety, health and welfare services. Property taxes can usually be raised only 3 percent a year on homes and 8 percent a year on business under a 2005 law.

Property under the plan assessed at $100,000 would cost an owner up to an extra $100 in property taxes a year.

Jeff Fontaine, executive director of the counties association, told supervisors the tax would give them the "flexibly to do what you need to do" and help counties particularly in rural areas deal with unfunded mandates from the state and federal government.

Supervisors endorsed four other of the association's bills, but unanimously turned down this one.

Carson City already has a ballot question for November that would raise property taxes for the fire and sheriff's departments, said Supervisor Shelly Aldean, and supporting the bill would look like supervisors didn't care about the city's tax burden.

Counties might eventually have to think about refusing to implement unfunded mandates from the state, she said.

Mayor Marv Teixeira said he tried to introduce a bill last session that would have let Carson City raise property taxes by a unanimous vote of supervisors if it needed emergency money to support elderly people who couldn't afford emergency medical care.

The bill was killed before the Legislature could vote on it, he said, and the same thing will happen to the association's bill.

"If by some miracle it were to pass, the governor would veto it," he said.

Several people also came to the meeting to criticize the bill.

Candidate for mayor Ken Haskins, who opposes both city ballot questions that would raise taxes, said "property owners are the ones that are always targeted" and Dennis Johnson, who is challenging Aldean for her Ward 2 supervisor seat said "there has to be a line drawn for no more taxes when the people don't want them."

But Fontaine said the slow economy that has forced counties to make cuts will leave some rural counties with few options if they are hit with unfunded mandates from the state.

"We know it's going to be a very difficult session," he said.

In other city news:

- Jennifer Schultz was hired as the city's human resources director. Ann Silver was fired in June and Fire Chief Stacey Giomi served in the position during the interim.

- Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

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