Letters to the Editor for Feb. 20
Tax dollars should support projects that benefit entire community
The Douglas County Board of County Commissioners passed Redevelopment Area 2 in 2016 which provides taxpayer dollars to the tune of $113 million over 30 years to fund an event center at Stateline.
Perhaps an event center is a good idea to help spruce up the area around the lake and draw more business to the area. However, this is all highly speculative. We really don’t know how well a 6,000-seat event center will do given its location away from a major airport and questionable winter weather conditions.
Sadly, this project will divert county funds away from much-needed county projects, such as improving our roads and infrastructure, sheriff facilities, etc.
It should be noted that during the legislative session of 2019, Senate Bill 461 was passed (effective July 2019) that, according to the Nevada legislative website, allows casinos to “impose a surcharge on lodging within the Tahoe Township in Douglas County. There is hereby imposed a tourism surcharge of $5 on the per night charge for the rental of lodgings in the Township.”
It is estimated that this tourist surcharge will raise approximately $137 million over a 30-year period, which will more than cover the cost of an $80 million events center.
Does this event center need two sources of funding? Should taxpayer dollars be used to finance this project when an alternate source of tourist funds is available through SB461? I don’t think so.
As many of you may know, there is a referendum petition circulating that aims to gather enough signatures to place RDA No. 2 on the November ballot, giving county residents a voice — yes or no — on taxpayer funding of this project.
County commissioners supportive of this project, knowing that this measure may be defeated in a popular vote, are attempting to do an end-run around this referendum by earmarking $25 million of RDA No. 2 funds for this project before the November election. So, much for allowing the people a voice!
With an election coming up in June, we will have the opportunity to elect two new county commissioners, Walt Nowosad and Mark Gardner, both whom I believe will serve as voices for the majority in Douglas County, and focus our tax dollars on projects that will benefit the whole county.
Put events center on the ballot
The sequencing of meetings for the upcoming approval for the $80 million Lake Tahoe Event Center must be pointed out. The Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting has been rescheduled to Feb. 27 to accommodate a Commissioner Rice conflict. But one could also deduce that the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency meeting on Feb. 26 is another reason.
Moving the commission meeting to Feb. 27 kills two birds with one stone since both meetings happen to deal with RDA No. 2 and an estimated minimum of $110 million of taxpayer dollars (being diverted from incremental property tax revenues). The three Douglas County commissioners in favor, support the idea that the Lake’s casino corridor is “blighted” and thus needs to be subsidized by the county treasury in the tune of approximately $110 million over the next 30 years.
This money which should be used for the benefit of local police, fire protection, schools countywide, etc., is now being reserved largely for the benefit of the multi-billion-dollar mega-corporations that largely make up the casino corridor, and must be reconsidered. Why these huge corporations would need to take $110 million plus from the people of Douglas County is beyond my comprehension.
With the passing of Senate Bill 461 in July 2019, a $5 tourism surcharge is being collected to fund such things like the event center. This is a sufficient dedicated funding source already being collected in the tune of approximately $4.4 million per year/$132 million over 30 years.
A vast majority of Douglas County’s residents live in Carson Valley and participation at both meetings being held at the lake is less likely and to obviously point out on back-to-back days. The, yet to be released, TRPA agenda will surely be packed as well as the commissioners agenda thus community members again will be less likely to wait hours in these marathon meetings to have their voices briefly heard.
The commissioners refused to put this disastrous taxpayer rip-off to a vote of the people at the June 20 board meeting. With the potential upcoming approval, taxpayers may be holding the bag for millions of dollars instead of the multi-billion-dollar mega corporations that should be footing the bills.
I am happy to say a citizens group is circulating referendum petitions to put this issue on the ballot for this year’s elections. Every registered voter should sign this non-partisan petition so all are equally heard from and not just the minority that attend meetings.
Two commissioners are up for re-election in the June primary. Both men, if they run, will have vocal opponents of this Redevelopment Area 2 taxpayer fraud.
Remember that you have a choice come election time.
The people of the county do not deserve to be treated like this. We need to stop the bleeding.
Editor’s Note: Ellie Waller is one of the organizers of the petition seeking to put the Park Development agreement on the ballot.
Dissolve RDA No. 2
It’s time to dissolve Redevelopment Area No. 2.
The idea of giving property tax to casinos, private industry, is basically wrong.
We all know deep in our hearts that this is wrong.
This ridiculous idea was embraced in California until 2016 when that state decided it wasn’t a very good idea after all; then promptly dissolved all of their 430 RDAs. I think we can all agree that California is the capital of bad ideas. So when California realized that RDAs were a bad idea, then they must be an extremely bad idea.
Meanwhile in 2016 while California was dissolving all of it’s RDAs our county commissioners and the casinos were busy creating RDA No. 2. The property tax in RDA No. 2 is collected by Douglas County and held in a reserve account. As the need arises, the Redevelopment Agency (Board of County Commissioners) authorizes transfers of funds to Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority. The governing body of TDVA consists of five members; four representatives of the largest casinos at the Lake and one county commissioner. This is how county property tax dollars end up in the hands of casinos.
Fast forward three years to 2019, we find our Legislature passing SB461. This law requires a $5 per night tourism surcharge to be paid for all lodging on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.
The surcharge is collected by Douglas County and remitted to TDVA.
How about double funding you say. Well, RDA No. 2 is funding the event center and other projects with property tax from lake residents in the amount of $113 million over 30 years. At the same time the $5 tourism surcharge is also funding the event center and other projects estimated to be $137 million over 30 years. This is “double funding.” Either RDA No. 2 (property tax) or SB461 ($5 tourism surcharge) will fund these projects entirely. The casinos do not need both revenue sources. The most reasonable solution would be to dissolve RDA No. 2. Then the $5 tourism surcharge would fund the event center and other projects.
The final result would be the casinos get their event center and property tax from the lake would flow normally to the county.
But the most reasonable solution is not the path of our county commissioners, they would rather give the casinos funds from both RDA No. 2 and SB461. A petition to put a question on the November ballot is being circulated among county voters. The casinos and their supportive commissioners are attempting an end-run by committing the county to $25 million of RDA No. 2 funds before the question gets on the November ballot.
This issue is coming to the Board of County Commissioners on Feb. 27. If you would like express your concern about this please email a letter the commissioners individually or attend the meeting and speak directly to the board (limit three minutes).
Editor’s Note: Dave Maxwell is one of the organizers of the petition seeking to put the Redevelopment area on the ballot.
Whole passel of birds
Thanks all of you for the effort in the Christmas Bird Count. The results have been submitted to national and the totals were 10,258 count and 85 species. Some of the highlights are: 2,441 Canada geese, 846 mallard, 64 American widgeon, 80 bufflehead, 32 hooded merganser, 32 goldeneye, 420 coot, 25 great blue heron, five great egret, a killdeer, 17 great yellowlegs, 48 gulls, 498 feral pigeon, 15 bald eagle, eight golden eagles, 45 northern harrier, 18 Cooper’s hawk, 25 kestrel, two prairie falcon, three Merlin, 252 red tails, four red-shouldered, 24 rough-legged, 18 gerruginous hawk, seven great horned owls, three Kingfisher, 35 flickers, seven downey WP, a black Phoebe, a Say’s Phoebe, four large shrike, 40 Scrub Jay, 69 Pinon Jay, 52 Crows, 45 Raven, 135 American pipit, 62 bush tits, five Bewick’s wren, 12 mountain bluebirds, 2 T. dolitaire , 134 Robins, 1,952 eastern starlings, 23 yellow-rumped, 19 song sparrow, 238 W-crowned sparrow, 19 savannah sparrow, a Lincoln sparrow, 88 junco, 199 Brewer’s BB, 11 C grackle, 129 house finch, 136 lesser goldfinch, 70 American goldfinch, two American dipper. Count week: evening grosbeak.
A special thanks to The Nature Conservancy for the use of the Whit Hall Interpretative Center and your conversations around dinner. See you all next year.
Owner Birding Under Nevada Skies
A biased narrative
In Mr. Justus’ Feb. 6 reply to my previous letter, he seems to confuse himself, and again contort Federalist 65, inventing information not contained anywhere in the document.
Absent in his reply continues to be any admission of the hypocrisy of his position that the Senate isn’t properly discharging their duty in the impeachment process, while we hear crickets when he was challenged to explain the House’s corrupt blocking of witnesses and testimony, hearings in secret, and Speaker Pelosi’s unprecedented month-long obstruction of proceedings once the House completed impeachment.
My thesis remains intact, advanced by Justus’ response. His apparent hatred for President Trump caused him to provide a convoluted, biased narrative. It is that simple.