Opinions vary on Indian Hills incorporation benefits | RecordCourier.com

Opinions vary on Indian Hills incorporation benefits

by Susie Vasquez

The entire population of Douglas County hovers around 45,000 people, better served by one government than the unnecessary duplication of services that will come if Indian Hills incorporates, said Douglas County Commission Chairman Kelly Kite.

Many Douglas County officials oppose incorporation of north Douglas County’s Indian Hills General Improvement District, but Indian Hills officials approved the measure last week.

The district board approved seeking a charter from the Legislature in 2005.

“They’ll need law enforcement, a city attorney, planning and development, a mayor, assessor, and city council,” Kite said. “Who’s going to support all that? They’re already paying the highest tax rate in the county.”

He said Douglas County is too small to need this type of duplication.

“The area is best served by the county,” Kite said.

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Jim Bentley, general manager of the Indian Hills District challenged that position, saying Douglas officials have not been responsive to the needs of Indian Hills residents.

For example, taxes paid by Indian Hills residents to finance a portion of the $1.6 million Sunridge fire station have been held up, while a station in the Gardnerville Ranchos has not.

Appeals for more police coverage were denied in 1997, despite the fact that Indian Hills officials offered to purchase the vehicles, Bentley said.

“They say we don’t pay attention to them,” Kite said. “We spent $1.2 million to develop James Lee Park. The list goes on.”

As a city, Indian Hills would increase its revenues from a host of other sources, including business, gaming, liquor licenses and building permits. Officials are also pinning their hopes on additional revenues from a proposed commercial area east of Highway 395 in North Douglas County.

Kite said Douglas officials have been working for about five years with the Bureau of Land Management to develop the area.

“They want to annex additional properties that Douglas County has paid to develop,” Kite said. “Douglas County taxpayers paid for the master planning and appraisals.”

Douglas County officials said the to move to incorporate will usurp tax revenues, a contention Bentley challenged.

He said Indian Hills will receive no more money from county coffers than they do now, as a district.

“It’s a specious argument to suggesting Douglas County sales taxes are being infringed,” Bentley said. “That’s not the way the state taxation formula works. State taxation redistributes all the taxes according to a formula. We don’t get to keep the taxes generated here.”

Kite said the formula concerning tax distribution is complicated and he doesn’t think anyone completely understands the issues but the real experts.

He said bills will be submitted during the upcoming legislative session concerning tax fund distributions. A lot of questions haven’t been answered.

“There are certain guaranteed portions of sales taxes going to the state and many are returned for specific reasons to the county,” he said. “But the most glaring problem for us, will be the one quarter-cent sales tax. Those funds are used for the airport, parks, library and senior center, fire department and school district.

“A huge portion of the money for these services is generated by the quarter-cent sales tax,” he said.

Kite said he didn’t want to tell Indian Hills residents what to do, but he feels they need to get all the facts before making a decision.

“I have some real concerns, about whether the revenue base will be there,” he said.

According to a feasibility study authored by Bentley, strong resistance from Douglas County governing boards was expected.

Should the issue pass any legislative hurdles, only Indian Hills residents, together with those inside any expanded boundaries, will be able to vote concerning incorporation.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at svasquez@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 213.