Douglas not easy place to talk taxes
March 5, 2013
The political landscape of Douglas County isn’t particularly conducive to building or maintaining infrastructure.
Looking back over some of the biggest controversies over the past two decades, whether growth, utility service or roads, it’s all about how the county has worked around the reluctance of voters to tax themselves.
Need a road? How about a water or sewer system? If you want to build you’re going to need to fend for yourself.
The reality is that for most of its history, Douglas County didn’t have much in the way of growth after the initial boom in the 1850s. A century later, the county’s population hadn’t grown much larger than it was when the Territorial Enterprise left Genoa for Carson and then Virginia City.
Starting in the 1960s, people started to look at Lake Tahoe and Carson Valley as someplace they’d like to live and growth took off. In the early days, that meant forming a special district to handle a neighborhood’s needs. That’s why Douglas is home to a score of different taxing districts, all with their own governments.
That’s the reason for the patchwork nature of the county’s infrastructure. Construction has been driven by the market, not by anything vaguely resembling central planning.
In libertarian Douglas County, that’s not a bad thing as far as taxpayers are concerned, as long as they’re not too worried about how shaky the county’s infrastructure is.