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Local budgets head for state

Even the IRS has delayed the deadline for federal taxes to July 15, but local governments were still required to submit their tentative budgets to the state by Wednesday’s April 15 deadline.

On Tuesday, Douglas County School Board trustees were scheduled to discuss their tentative $98.2 million budget, which includes a $60 million general fund.

The district is anticipating a 44-student increase to 5,707 students. This year saw a 33 student decrease over 2018-19. The district is expecting to receive $6,152 per student in basic support.

The school district expects to revise its budget based on better numbers at its May 19 meeting.

Last week Douglas County commissioners approved a $43 million baseline tentative budget with the caveat that it’s all probably going to change before the final is approved.

“This will not be what the final budget looks like,” County Chief Financial Officer Terry Willoughby said at the April 7 meeting.

Willoughby said the revenues in the budget are based on 2018-19, since there is no official word on what the coronavirus will do to the budget.

“We’ve had conversations with state tax officials and they’re not adjusting right now,” she said.

The Nevada Department of Taxation doesn’t typically issue sales tax numbers for March until the end of May.

Those figures would include the impact of closing businesses across the county, including the Stateline casinos.

Willoughby said she anticipates a 5-10 percent drop in revenues for this year.

She said restaurants are responsible for 18 percent of the county’s sales tax revenues. Douglas is a guaranteed county, so taxable sales within its boundaries are supplemented by larger counties. Since the closures are statewide, that amount will likely be reduced.

Property tax contributes a significant portion of the county’s budget, and those revenues are running ahead of budget. Willoughby said she hoped there wouldn’t be much impact on property taxes from the coronavirus, but she is budgeting that it will go down.

Willoughby said that unlike the Great Recession the coronavirus outbreak came on suddenly.

“It’s not like the Great Recession where you had triggers and signs,” she said. “It was a great economy. Everything was booming.”

She said collections were at 77 percent for the total year, a point ahead of last year’s, with room tax already at 95 percent as of March 31.

“We were expecting to augment the budget,” she said. “We’re just not going to collect as much over as we thought. Everything was going great and then it just stopped.”

Not long after the county approved its tentative budget in a virtual meeting, the Town of Gardnerville followed suit in approving its budget.

Town Manager Erik Nilssen said the town’s property tax revenues were projected to increase by 10 percent to $1.358 million.

State consolidated taxes, which include sales tax revenue, were projected to decrease 13.4 percent to $277,555. He said the revenue for the tentative budget is $1.668 million.

Nilssen said he foresees delaying projects instead of laying off staff depending on the final revenues.

“If restaurants and casinos stay closed for an extended time, most capital projects may need to be postponed,” he said.