Anti-tax measures great for state's millionaires

Anti-tax sentiment, which until recently hardly registered a blip on the radar screen of Nevada politics, is beginning to show some signs of acceptance in the Silver State.

Two citizen-backed anti-tax measures may find their way to the state ballot this year through the citizen-initiative process.

One proposition, championed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beers, seeks to limit annual increases in state spending to population growth and inflation.

The other measure, proposed by Republican congressional candidate Sharon Angle, is a much more draconian proposal inspired by California Proposition 13 and Oregon Ballot Measure 5. This Nevada version of this measure would cap property taxes at 1 percent of a property's base value or cash value. in the event that a property is sold.

No doubt, the increasing appeal of these measures arises to some extent from the rapidly escalating property values in Nevada, especially in Las Vegas, Reno and around Lake Tahoe.

Values in those areas have skyrocketed the past five years, fueled, in part, by speculative forces reminiscent of the greed that preceded the stock market "bubble" of the late 1990s. In fact, it was millionaire property owners from Nevada's high-rent districts who led the charge on property tax "reform" in the 2005 Nevada Legislative Assembly. People from Fallon, Fernley, Lovelock, Elko, Hawthorne and Ely were noticeably absent from the debate in Carson City because. compared to their well-heeled neighbors. property taxes are a non-starter.

Assuming that Beers and Angle are successful in their campaigns to deliver property tax reductions to their rich constituents, we hope that voters in the rural districts take the time to educate themselves about the true costs and benefits of property tax measures with arbitrary limits. Take a drive over the hill to Sacramento, where the roads are in such bad shape that a pothole may knock off an axle and wipe out your property tax relief. Visit any of California's public schools to witness firsthand the overcrowding, outdated books and worn-out equipment. Talk to some county commissioners who are cutting juvenile and domestic violence programs, scaling back road, sewer and water line repairs and maintenance. Visit with everyday citizens who are concerned about dilapidated infrastructure and reduced services, people who would gladly support a tax increase if their hands hadn't been tied by a statewide measure that precludes local options.

Property tax relief may be a good deal for the owner of a $5 million home at Incline Village, who may realize enough savings for an extra trip to Maui. But the $200 savings in property tax on a three-bedroom home in Fallon isn't such a hot deal for a family trying to put a couple of kids through school.

The place to achieve property real and responsible tax relief is through participation in local government by attending city council, school board and county commission meetings and demanding that elected leaders be prudent with the people's money.

- From the Lahontan

Valley News


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