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Gardnerville may raise property tax

by Sharon Carter

When legislators enacted the Supplemental City/County Relief Tax, perhaps they knew they would be giving the starting signal for inter-governmental dashes for dollars.

The Gardnerville Town Board agreed Thursday to explore its option of imposing the SCCRT at its next meeting – hoping to get a head start on the county.

The SCCRT limited property taxes to a maximum of $1.15 per $100 of assessed value. The legislation, which sent needed assurances to taxpayers who feared ever-greater tax bills, also permitted local governments to raise taxes to that point without resorting to a popular vote.

In Douglas County, imposing the SCCRT would raise property taxes by about 10 cents per $100,000 of a property’s market value. It would mean a tax increase of $35 for a home with a market value of $100,000; an increase of $50 for one valued at $150,000.

The Minden Town Board voted to raise its taxes by 11 cents effective July 1.

If the Town of Gardnerville beats the county by imposing the ad valorem tax first, board members figure the town’s revenues would increase by about $75,000 per year.

“The tax can only be imposed once, and if the towns don’t take it, the counties will,” board chairman Tom Cook said.

That increase might serve to offset the potential loss to the town of its water quality mitigation fees.

When Gardnerville began substituting a water quality fee in place of requiring project-site sand and oil separator traps for storm runoff, the town board believed it was moving in the right direction to protect the area’s water quality.

The drainage fees, the board reasoned, could be amassed in order to fund a regional solution.

“We would have a water quality program (as mandated) and we’d have more control at less cost, and the community gets an amenity,” the town’s consulting engineer Andy Burnham of Vasey Engineering said Thursday. “We were going down the path in the right direction.”

And the state of Nevada apparently agreed, because it awarded the town a $15,000 grant to help.

So it came as a surprise Thursday when the board was informed the water quality fee was removed as a condition of approval from the town’s most recently sanctioned project, the Wells Fargo Bank building on Highway 395.

Fearing that Gardnerville had imposed an illegal impact fee, the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office ordered the water quality fee removed.

“We see the fee as a substitution of a condition (for water quality) the town is authorized to impose,” Michael Rowe, the town’s attorney said. “Everyone was behind the idea of area-wide treatment maintained by the town.

“But if the county refuses to enforce it, we’ll have to file releases for the people who have agreed to pay the fees and refund the money to the people who paid up front. Then all those people will have to put in on-site treatment that will connect to nowhere. And we could lose our grant.”

Rowe said the fee had been in place for about four years.

The board directed Rowe and Burnham to meet with county personnel and report back at the next meeting.

In other business, the board:

n Directed Rowe to prepare a resolution which would include the 9.9 percent increase of the trash collection surcharge needed to fund the covered area of Douglas County’s permanent garbage transfer station. The board will have two public hearings regarding the proposed increase before the resolution is adopted.

The structure’s estimated cost is between $1.5 million and $3 million.

“It’s going to happen, it’s something we can’t stay away from,” Cook said. “I asked the (county) commissioners to hold off implementing it until July 1.”

n Changed their regular meeting date to the first Thursday of each month to accommodate scheduling changes of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners and the planning commission.

n Recommended that the county issue a liquor license to Don Hall and Steven McElvain, the new owners of Nelson’s at 1435 Highway 395.

n Recommended the county approve a minor rear setback variance for lots 37 and 38 in Chichester Estates to accommodate a retention pond.

n Recommended that the county approve a 7,200 square foot addition to the RGR Building at 1426 Industrial Way.

n Recommended that the county approve a zoning change for the Nenzel Mansion from single family residential to neighborhood commercial use. A recommended condition of the zoning grant was access to Ezell Street.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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