Temporary crisis, enduring resource
October 3, 2002
When Nevada voters are asked Nov. 5 to support a property-tax increase for conservation, we may well ask if there aren’t more pressing needs for our dollars.
The answer is yes — the state does have significant budget shortages which need to be addressed, and some involve public health and safety priorities.
But the answer is also yes — we should vote in favor of statewide Question 1, raise taxes by a modest amount and fund a $200 million conservation bond to help protect Nevada’s natural resources.
The two stands aren’t contradictory, in our view. The timing, however, is coincidental.
The Nevada Legislature decided to put the conservation bond on the ballot in 2001, when the economy was rosier and there was no hint of the current budget crisis.
The reasoning was sound then, and it remains sound now. Lawmakers were looking to the future, which in the case of our natural resources can be measured in generations and not so much in two-year budgets.
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In Carson City, the conservation effort would involve $10 million aimed at the Carson River. There should be no doubt that protection and restoration of wildlife habitat, maintenance and construction of trails, and purchase of open space along the river are among the causes for which Carson City residents are willing to be taxed.
Still, the question persists: Is this the right time?
There may be no better time. Funds are tight — and getting tighter — throughout state and city budgets. A property tax, estimated at $18 a year for the owner of a $200,000 home, dedicated to conservation will make sure that’s where the money is spent.
We fully expect the 2003 Legislature to raise taxes based on recommendations in the governor’s budget, and we expect them to be spread widely across the board. This is one tax, though, on which we’re being given the opportunity to vote.
We’ll be voting yes, on the theory budget crises are temporary but there will always be a Carson River.