Incline Village residents staged a tax revolt tonight on the shore of Lake Tahoe. Their ongoing beef with the Washoe County tax assessor has reached a new level.
The protest took an historic theme tonight as the residents re-enacted the Boston Tea Party.
The tea was a little different but the issue dates back to the birth of our country . . . citizens who think they're being taxed unfairly.
With a heave-ho and in it goes . . . a symbolic barrel of tea thrown into Lake Tahoe at Burny Cedar Beach.
The Village League to Save Incline Assets sponsored this Tahoe Tea
Party to round up the residents and take action against property tax
"We're protesting taxes because it's too high and cost too much," said Jennifer Geddes.
"The difference between a taxidermist and a tax assessor? The
taxidermist only takes the skin," said McAvoy Lane (protraying Mark Twain).
Said homeowner Chuck Otto: "There are people here whose taxes went up 85 percent."
"I'm up to here, some people are up to here - blinded and drowned by the assessor," said protestor Phyllis Farr.
While some have nicknamed Incline Village "Income Village" because
of the exclusive area and beautiful homes, Farr says the tax rates are hurting elderly homeowners.
"They are all suffering, they are on fixed incomes. Some have worked a
lifetime to afford homes here and the taxes are drving them out," she said.
The Tahoe Tea Party begins a new process for these residents. Next
they file their taxes under protest - and they'll file a lawsuit.
"The only way we'll get some relief is to find a court of law," said Maryanne Ingemanson, theTea Party organizer. "If we get a ruling from the court that the assessor has to follow rules and statutes, that would be a huge victory."
Residents contend the Washoe County Assessor has raised taxes illegally over the past several years, an accusation the county has repeatedly denied.
Said Bob McGowan, the Washoe County Assessor: "We've been audited by the state in the past and consequently have passed the audit so it's our belief we've done it in the right fashion."
But clearly these residents don't agree.
So now they take it to court and hope they can convince a judge to side with them.
About 200 residents turned out for the Tea Party . . . but they say they represent more than 5000 Incline Village homeowners who feel they're being gouged by the county.
They plan to file this new lawsuit in about a week and we will continue to follow this story and keep you updated.
It could have far-reaching implications. It could set a new precedent for property taxes.