School Tax Issue Goes Before Commissioners

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RENO -- Washoe County commissioners will hear a presentation on a tax hike proposal that is intended to fund repairs of schools. A meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Washoe County government complex at 9th and Wells.

The Nevada State Legislature could have decided whether to increase sales and property taxes for school repairs, however the bill that was approved leaves the decision up to county commissioners. Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler said "I don't think it's right" what the legislature did before the session came to a close last month.

Berkbigler also said she has "grave concern" with the idea now being considered by commissioners.

"There's nothing in the bill that clarifies there must be reporting and that this must only go to repair and maintenance of existing schools," she said.

Washoe County School District superintendent Pedro Martinez said reporting requirements could always be better. However, he said the revenue that would be raised from the tax increases is far less than what would be needed to build new schools. He acknowledged the language does not prevent the funds from being used for construction of new schools. The district has said it has millions of dollars in repair and maintenance costs. The tax increases would amount to about one-hundred dollars a year, according to information released by the district.

"My hope is that they just listen to us we give them the facts we had to make our case to the legislature and we're ready to make our case to the county," Martinez said.

Berkbigler said it is unlikely commissioners would take a vote Tuesday. She said there would likely be a series of public meetings before a decision is reached on the issue. Members of the public are expected to weigh in at the meetings.