Commissioners unanimously directed staff to finance the refunds using two reserve funds while deferring capital projects, continuing to provide funding for staff to process repayments and allocating proportionate shares of the refunds to other taxing entities that received the revenues by reducing their respective future tax distributions.
In a separate action, the board voted 3-2, with Chairman John Breternitz and Commissioner Kitty Jung opposed, to allocate proportionate shares of the accrued interest to the other taxing entities that have had use of the funds during the time the action has been in litigation.
Other agencies affected include the Washoe County School District, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, Incline Village General Improvement District and the state of Nevada.
The estimated total cost of the refunds is approximately $43.3 million. The interest portion is estimated to be $6.2 million and the county government’s share is about $18.4 million.
County staff was directed to prepare documents allowing for the use of up to $7 million from the county’s risk management fund, $8.4 million from the health benefits fund and defer $3 million in capital projects to repay the taxes.
Use of reserves identified for property and liabilities claims, worker’s compensation coverage, health benefits and capital improvement projects depletes reserves that might need long-term replenishment to meet existing liabilities, county officials said.
Therefore, utilizing current reserves was considered the best option available.
Staff noted that there are no other revenue sources currently available to pay the $18.4 million court-ordered property tax refunds to Incline Village property owners. Since the county has already cut spending by $154 million and 769 positions, or 20 percent of its workforce, in the last five years, further budget and subsequent staff reductions would continue to erode the county’s ability to provide essential core public services, officials said.
In a separate item, commissioners continued the introduction of an ordinance providing for a 1-cent vehicle registration tax as authorized by NRS 371.043 to replenish the affected funds. The continuance will allow time to obtain additional information on opportunities for replenishing the three affected funds and to complete an analysis on cash flow. The county has no authority to increase sales tax and the community is at the statutory limit for property taxes.
Additional information for residents affected by the property tax refund is available online at www.washoecounty.us/treas/Inclinevillage/crystalbaytaxrefundinformation.htm.