Lawmakers: Incline won’t be own county
INCLINE VILLAGE – The prospects for a new Incline County seem remote, according to Nevada State Sen. Randolph Townsend and State Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick.
“I owe it to my constituents to present the case at the next session of the Legislature, but I have to be truthful and say that, if it becomes a bill and that bill comes up for a vote, there is no way in hell it’s going to pass,” Townsend said.
Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, agrees. “With so many counties in the state struggling financially, I can’t see the Legislature allowing a split.”
Finances play a big part in the formation of the new county, according to Jim Clark, head of the Independent Incline Committee.
“I can understand the reluctance. Washoe County looks to lose about $19 million a year in revenue from Incline if we were to become independent,” Clark said. He added that the combined tax savings for local residents would be about $1.1321, or a 35 percent reduction in real estate taxes for Incline and Crystal Bay.
Clark feels that the only chance the new county has is if there is a change in the Legislature.
“As it stands, (Senate Majority Leader Bill) Raggio won’t back it. We have to wait until May to see if he’ll run for re-election. I know that Assemblywoman Sandra Tiffany (R-Clark County) is concerned with how the move will affect school districts, and that Clark County Assemblyman Joe Hardy (R-Boulder City) also has questions about making school districts smaller.”
“We’ll just have to keep moving ahead and see what happens,” Clark said.
Townsend also thinks that the only recourse is to keep pushing ahead, although there will be some bumps in the road.
“We’ll present it, and after we’re laughed out of the room, we’ll have to go to work on the southern part of the state,” he said.
“I don’t want to fool anyone. There are some very serious negotiations that have to take place. I’m not saying that this is an impossibility,” Townsend said.
He and Hettrick agree that there will be little or no sympathy from their colleagues from the south.
“People look at Incline as a wealthy area, and they won’t understand why people with large incomes want to break away to reduce their tax bill,” Townsend said, adding, “While houses up there sell for millions, homes in Clark County usually average about $184,000.”
Hettrick feels that Incline residents should have taken a smaller step.
“The wealth of the area is a reality,” he said. “But they really don’t have the revenue to support being a county. My suggestion has been that they incorporate and become a city.”
Hettrick also feels that the main opposition may come not from the south, but from their own backyard.
“Washoe County is not going to just let them go,” he said. “They stand to lose a big chunk of money. They’ll fight this tooth and nail.”
While both representatives said they will do what’s needed to help the movement, they feel the chances of its success are minimal.
“Back in 1995, when this came up, it was made to look like it would work. The reality is, there are too many hurdles and not enough guidelines to help this along. People just aren’t creating counties from scratch anymore,” Hettrick said.