Tax Cap Consequence

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The Washoe County school district relies on property tax revenue for a large part of its operating budget and for 100 percent of its new construction budget.

If there's a cap--of any percentage--the district says it stands to lose a substantial amount of its funding.

This plot of dirt in the Double Diamond part of Reno is the future home of the Dorothy Lemelson Elementary School. It's scheduled to open in 2007, but there could be delays if district funding is cutback.

"If we suffer some sort of freeze or significant rollback, we are not going to be able to do all the kinds of projects the voters told us they wanted to do in 02," says Steve Mulvenon with the Washoe County School District.

By his estimations, the district grows by one thousand to two thousand new students every single year. New schools--as well as expansions and upgrades to others--are constantly needed to keep up with that growth.

"The average age of the schools in this district--existing schools that we have--is 31 years old. Think about your house. By the time it gets to be 31 years old, it needs some major remodeling and some renovations. We've got to be able to keep up with that."

People at the district and state level are still crunching the numbers to figure out exactly what kind of financial hit Washoe County could suffer.

Just for example...under a hypothetical three percent property cap, the district stands to lose 3.4 million dollars in first year of implementation. That translates to 54 dollars per student OR 74 classroom teachers OR 42,500 textbooks OR 46 new school buses.

"The worst case scenario: if we don't have the kinds of dollars that we need, the bottom line is that it's the kids who are going to be the ones who suffer."

Besides the Dorothy Lemeson Elementary school, three others are also in the infant stages, but should continue to completion on schedule: Cold Springs Middle School, and the Sepulveda and Jessie Hall Elementary Schools, both in Spanish Springs.

Necessitating the property tax cap are complaints from homeowners who have seen their taxes skyrocket...because their property values have increased dramatically in recent years.