Road district plan gets low marks
February 15, 2019
In 1965, when Red Swift started the development soon to be known as the Gardnerville Ranchos, he controlled the land.
That's why he was able to seek an improvement district without getting landowners' consent. He was the landowner.
A proposal to allow developers to create a road and drainage district for projects that fall outside any other maintaining authority was generally panned at the Feb. 7 county commission meeting.
Douglas County is home to a score of independent improvement districts, the most per capita in the state, and the most outside of Clark County.
Most of those districts were formed at the request of developers before they sold off lots to individual homeowners.
Proposed by commissioner Larry Walsh to maintain roads outside the boundaries of the towns and existing districts, it would be voluntary whether the developer-property owner would participate.
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Once lots were sold, a portion of homeowners' tax bill would go to pay for roads.
Nevada has a $3.66 per $100 assessed valuation tax cap, which Douglas has reached in places such as Indian Hills, Minden and Gardnerville.
However, Walsh pointed out that outside the towns and districts there's as much as a $1 per $100 assessed valuation available.
However, the question is whether smaller developments like Hunters Point in Fish Springs could raise enough tax dollars to fix the road that serves the project.
Under the ordinance presented, county commissioners would serve as the district board.
At issue is the question of how Douglas County should pay for its rural roads.
"We've never decided how to maintain local roads," Penzel said, pointing out that the ordinance would help pay for those new developments but not do much for existing roads.
"We just need to make a commitment to perform road maintenance," Penzel said.
He said the county could double the amount of money devoted to road sealing if they made it a priority.
The debate over having the county maintain those roads is that residents of the towns and districts end up paying for their own roads and those in the county.