Tax hike shocks residents |

Tax hike shocks residents

by Susie Vasquez

Property taxes are on the rise, following the meteoric increase in the value of Douglas County land. Tax assessments have jumped 10 to 60 percent, said Douglas County Assessor Doug Sonnemann.

Indian Hills resident Beverly Palmer said her assessment jumped $9,000, or about 30 percent. Retired and on a fixed income, Palmer said her house payments will increase.

“I’m mad. I want to know how the county can declare an area adjacent to me blighted, then raise my assessment,” she said. “I will be at the next county commissioners meeting in January, to protest.”

Each year, one-fifth of Douglas County properties are reassessed. Properties west of Highway 395 and State Route 88, together with those north of Johnson Lane, were included this year.

The remaining properties are adjusted based on vacant land sales,Sonnemann said.

South Lake Tahoe and Johnson Lane properties received the highest increases, he said.

“Five years ago when Johnson Lane was reappraised, the values for an acre of land was set at about $42,000,” he said. “That value has gone up to about $125,000, a typical increase in that area.”

Taxes are paid on 35 percent of that $42,000 assessment, or $14,700.

Douglas County has 35 different tax rates, more than any other county in the state due to the number of taxing districts. The rates in the area reassessed this year range from $2.20 to $3.0109, per $100 assessed value. The increase in tax bills won’t start until July for the 2005-06 fiscal year, Sonnemann said.

Johnson Lane resident Teresa Annas said her assessment rose 30 percent.

“I live at the top of Johnson Lane on a dirt road. I don’t have sewer or water service,” she said. “I have a friend with the very same house in Ruhenstroth who is paying a whole lot less.”

Sonnemann said the Ranchos and Ruhenstroth areas were appraised last year.

Assessments throughout the west have increased significantly and in Nevada, that trend follows throughout western Nevada and Clark County.

He said the calls have been steady since the notices were mailed about a week ago. He’s hoping a tax cap will be approved during the upcoming Legislative session.

“A lot of senior citizens purchased their property when values were cheap,” Sonnemann said. “When we reassessed properties at Lake Tahoe several years back, the increased taxes push their budgets hard. They’re calling us, asking for relief because they’re getting taxed out.”

According to a story in the Las Vegas Sun, Nevada Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus requested a bill that would freeze property tax assessments throughout the state at last year’s level, effectively wiping out increases.

Although legislators from both parties appear to support some kind of cap on increases, some Republicans are supporting a cap of 3 percent or less, raising the possibility of a contentious split on the issue.

Titus and Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, last summer endorsed a cap on increases of 6 percent, mirroring a proposal by Clark County Assessor Mark Schofield. Titus said a simple freeze on increases would be a temporary measure that would give the Legislature the entire session to consider a permanent restraint on property tax increases.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.