"Since I've been a commissioner, we've lowered taxes."
So stated Lyon County Commissioner Bob Milz at the Aug. 8 Dayton Regional Advisory meeting. To reinforce his position, he distributed a chart documenting the county tax rates for the past 10 years.
He apparently took exception to my column of July 13 noting his vote (made without a word of prior mention to his constituents or a word of protest) for a 2.53-cent increase in Lyon County property tax rates for the current budget year.
(He spent his 1996 election campaign and the last five years lambasting tax increases and maligning members of the prior board for doing so, pointedly stating at public meeting after public meeting that he would not raise taxes without a vote of the people.)
I would not mention the subject again except for Commissioner Milz' public statement that, even with the tax increase, the property tax rate is lower now than it was when he took office. Let me assure you, it is not!
Though not illustrated in a particularly clear manner, the informational chart distributed by Commissioner Milz at the Aug. 8 meeting actually shows the county's general tax rate is 3.08 cents higher today than it was in fiscal year 1997-98. (72.69-cents vs 75.77-cents) So, again I ask - after five years of doing county budgets, does he simply not understand what he is doing, or is he trying to double talk his way out of an embarrassing political gaffe?
To those unfamiliar with the county's property tax assessments and corresponding budget line items, the chart he dispersed to the public is a bit misleading.
The separation of the property tax rate listings for the Western Nevada Juvenile Center (2.69-cents) and the China Spring Youth Facility (.89 cents) from the other general property tax assessments enhances the misconception of a lower tax rate. However, a property tax is a property tax is a property tax and simply giving it a different name does not change that fact.
I would hope the chart was not intentionally disingenuous.
Another misperception being perpetuated by Commissioner Milz is that this year's tax increase went specifically to alleviate a shortfall in the county long-term indigent care fund. It did not!
Anticipating possible shortfalls at the end of the 2000-01 fiscal year, in June the commissioners approved the transfer of $457,500 from the contingency budget line item within the General Fund to various departments and functions throughout the county. I won't bore you with the details as to each of the many funds the money was distributed to.
In short, even though $200,000 of that amount was transferred to the indigent care fund, the 2.5-cent tax increase was designated for the general fund and will be used "in general" to help alleviate any number of those potential shortfalls.
My point in rehashing the issue of this relatively insignificant tax increase, and resultant bickering over where the approximately $175,000 it generates will go, is this:
I am sick and tired of listening to elected officials pontificate over how great they are whenever, by happenstance, things go their way, but, when campaign promises can't be met, watching them resort to the "smoke and mirror" routine of denial.
Find me an elected official who has not had a campaign promise fail to materialize and I will show you an egg fried on the moon! Candidate promises are a dime a dozen - the true character of the individual shines through when political reality hits the fan.
Well intended or not, who of us has not made a promise we could not keep - to our children, to our spouses, to our friends - to our constituents? Upon considering the impending consequences of a broken pledge, what did you do? Dance, hide or face the music?
The Regional Transportation Commission is one of several boards appointed by the Lyon County Commission. The state Legislature recently expanded this board from three to five positions, creating a need for two additional appointees.
The RTC helps determine which road construction and maintenance projects the county's approximately $1.6 million in vehicle fuel tax funding will be designated for each year. It is an important job, but applicants are few.
As of last week, only two or three individuals had submitted letters of interest, one of them being a Fernley developer.
I have nothing against this particular developer, but a developer has no business being in a position of determining where and how road funds should be spent. However, if there are no other citizens willing to serve on this volunteer board, we will get exactly what public apathy begets - special interest representatives serving on boards that can potentially benefit their own personal welfare.
The application deadline is nearing. Does anyone care?
Think about it.