Campaigns respond to attack ads
Opponents of using redevelopment money for an events center accused pro-redevelopment forces of a series of anonymous attack ads published over the past seven weeks in The Record-Courier.
In a joint statement the campaigns of Commissioner Dave Nelson, candidate Mark Gardner and the petition drive to put the redevelopment area on the ballot, they said establishment of a web site with a similar name to their own was just the first salvo.
All five full-page ads included a web site, http://www.taxpayerstrikeforce.com, which spoofs the established http://www.dctaxpayerstrikeforce.com site which opposes using redevelopment to build the events center at Stateline.
“The … website was created to divert interested people from going to another website put in place during the run up to the board of commissioners meeting at the Lake in which a request to consider dissolution of Redevelopment Area No. 2 was debated,” the campaigns said.
“I regard these amateurish hit pieces as shots across the bow,” said Virginia Starrett, co-chair of the Gardner and Nelson campaigns. “My instincts tell me that this is coming from special interests’ segment in our county, entities who have lots of money and used to having a lot of influence as well.”
North Valley resident Lynn Muzzy has filed complaints with the Secretary of State’s Office.
The advertisements may violate state law which requires any entity that spends more than $1,500 seeking to influence an election to file as a political action committee with the state.
“To publicly slur private citizens, lying about their positions on the issues and motivations, makes it nearly impossible to reach across the aisle and have a civil conversation with those who have opposing political points of view.”
One of the original five signatories on a petition to put the redevelopment area on the ballot, Tom Starrett, said he found his inclusion in the ads “to be almost a badge of honor.”
“They know they have neither the facts nor the law on their side and are desperate.”
If the petition is successful in collecting the roughly 2,600 signatures required to make the ballot, it would go to a vote in November.
Also both Gardner and Nowosad are running on a platform opposing redevelopment. Should either of them succeed and Nelson be re-elected, three votes would be sufficient to repeal the redevelopment area.
“There is no personal or financial gain in what we are fighting to bring about, either for me or my husband,” Jan Muzzy said. “We will not be intimidated or stifled by those who have unlimited funds to hamper our grassroots efforts for responsible growth and making sure our tax dollars are spent judiciously.”
The events center would be operated by the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority. The redevelopment area was approved by Douglas County commissioners in 2016 to help fund the center, which has been a longstanding goal of Lake Tahoe tourism officials.
They say having a year-around venue at Tahoe would help revitalize Stateline, which has long been a revenue-generator for the county.
“From the TDVA perspective, we are singularly focused on providing the various agencies fact based information that will allow them the confidence to fairly evaluate the project on its merits,” Authority President Carol Chaplin said. “We have broad based support for this effort — significantly blurring the lines between Lake and Valley, and are committed specifically to deliver what we think is a game-changer for the county and the region. That’s where our resources are pledged.”
In the last session, the Nevada Legislature approved a $5 per room night surcharge at Tahoe, which is expected to raise a majority of the funding for the events center.
Redevelopment raises revenue from property taxes charged on increased valuation from improvements. In the case of Stateline, one of the key improvements is the conversion of Tahoe Shores Mobile Home Park to $1 million condos for Tahoe Beach Club.
According to the county, the redevelopment area was projected to raise slightly more than $1 million during the 2019-20 fiscal year, though that number will be less after commissioners approved shifting school funding back to the district.
Estimates are that over the 30-year life of the area, it will raise more than $100 million, which must be spent in the boundaries of redevelopment.
The county commission, sitting as the redevelopment area board, can repeal redevelopment areas, but any money in the budget at the time must be spent in the area.
According to figures on the county’s web site, the center will cost an estimated $100 million, of which $25 million will come from redevelopment. The other $75 million will come from the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority raised through the room tax and two-thirds of the 3-percent lodging license fee.
The petition drive has another five months to gather 2,613 signatures to place redevelopment on the ballot.
Three Douglas County Commission seats are up for election in 2020, including those held by Larry Walsh and Barry Penzel, who have voted in support of the redevelopment area. Neither Walsh nor Penzel have announced their plans.
Filing for nonjudicial offices occurs March 2-13. Because of Douglas County’s significant Republican majority, the commissioner races will likely be decided in the June primary.
Unlike California, Nevada has a closed primary, which means only Republicans will get to vote on partisan offices, like county commissioner.