Lawmakers Doubt Incline Could Be Own County

Washoe County, Nevada
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The prospects for a plan to allow Incline Village to form its own county appear slim to none, two Republican lawmakers said.

State Sen. Randolph Townsend of Reno and Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick of Gardnerville said the upscale north Lake Tahoe community faces an uphill battle to win approval at the 2005 Legislature.

"I owe it to my constituents to present the case at the next session of the Legislature, but I have to be truthful and say that if ... that bill comes up for a vote, there is no way in hell it's going to pass," Townsend told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspaper.

"With so many counties in the state struggling financially, I can't see the Legislature allowing a split," Hettrick agreed.

Jim Clark, head of the Independent Incline Committee, said his group would press on with the effort despite the opposition.

He acknowledged problems because Washoe County stands to lose about $19 million a year if Incline Village breaks away.

"I can understand the reluctance," Clark said. "We'll just have to keep moving ahead and see what happens."

Hettrick thinks Incline residents should take a smaller step and incorporate as a city.

To incorporate, supporters would need to collect signatures from a third of Incline's registered voters and prove to a state panel that the city could support itself financially.

If approved, the city of Incline Village would become one of the wealthiest in Nevada, with a median household income of $69,447, according to 2000 Census figures.

Although Incline's 9,000 residents make up about 3 percent of the county's population, they contribute 14 percent to the county's property tax base after their homes were reappraised early this year.

Some Incline residents have sued over the soaring values placed on their homes by the county assessor.

If Incline can form its own county, Clark said, there would be about a 35 percent reduction in real estate taxes for the community.

Townsend predicted little or no sympathy for the plan from his colleagues in the south.

"People look at Incline as a wealthy area and they won't understand why people with large incomes want to break away to reduce their tax bill," Townsend said. "While houses up there sell for millions, homes in Clark County usually average about $184,000."