Ruling Allows Washoe Tax Appeals To Continue

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Rejecting a request by a group of Incline Village property owners upset over soaring property taxes, a judge has ruled a Washoe County board can continue to hold tax appeal hearings.

The Village League to Save Incline Assets, represented by Reno lawyer Suellen Fulstone, criticized Washoe District Judge Steven Elliott's ruling Friday.

The group from the upscale north Lake Tahoe community said it would file for an emergency order before the Nevada Supreme Court to stop the Board of Equalization hearings.

"His interpretation of the law leaves a lot to be desired," property owner Ted Harris told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

At issue is whether people who appeal for a break in their property-tax values should be given 21 or three working days' notice by the board to prepare a case.

A 2001 state law requires 21-day notice when a governmental entity takes an administrative action "against a person," while the state open meeting law requires a three-day notice.

Elliott ruled that the three-day notice was the law, and the 21-day notice does not apply to equalization board proceedings because no action is taken "against a person."

"This isn't where a right is being taken away," Elliott said. "I don't see where property owners are having anything taken away. They are trying to get a better deal."

Deputy District Attorney Leslie Admirand argued that local governments would be unable to get anything done if actions taken against properties required 21 working days' notice.

"We're pleased the judge accepted our arguments and denied their request for a preliminary injunction," Admirand said.

But Fulstone maintained property taxes are very personal and property owners should be entitled to more than three days' notice to prepare a case, especially since many Incline Village homeowners are from out of state.

The county equalization board is holding 1,600 tax appeal hearings this month - all but 200 from Incline Village property owners.