AB 46 Dies Before Washoe County Commission

By: Catherine Van/Colin Lygren Email
By: Catherine Van/Colin Lygren Email
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UPDATE:

AB46, the controversial bill to raise your taxes to pay for school repairs, died when Washoe County commissioners took no action on it Tuesday night.

This means no tax increases for us, but it also means no funding for schools. It was an emotional and difficult decision for a few commissioners. Opinions were split down the middle--people have been sending emails, calling, writing post cards and showing up to meetings in the last few months to share their thoughts. Public commentary added up to more than 17 hours, but ultimately, commissioners chose to kill the bill.

Three out of the five commissioners wanted the bill to go to a public vote with only one, Kitty Jung, who was completely for it.

Schools will lose out on the $20,000,000 that the school district said would have been raised from the taxes that would've funded building maintenance costs for schools in the district.

If it passed, sales tax would increase by a quarter of a percent and property tax would go up by $0.05 per every $100 assessed value. Both those tax increases were rejected, which provides a challenge to the school district.

"This is money we really need," Pedro Martinez, Washoe County School District Superintendent, said. "Nobody, even today, who was opposed to this tax questioned the need. It's only going to get bigger. This was our chance to get proactive to keep the tax low and I'm just disappointed."

"You're talking about taking money away from people who can't pay to fix their cars, their roofs, they're having trouble making insurance payments, they're having trouble feeding their kids and we're telling them that they have to pay more money? That's ridiculous," Robb Archie, who was against AB46, said.

WCSD's next step is to discuss the next fiscal budget to reallocate some funds and reconsider some projects to support the building maintenance needs. The board vows to move forward despite the big setback. They are also pleased that commissioners recognized their transparent efforts throughout the process.

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RENO, NV -- Almost a year's worth of campaigning by the Washoe County School District will come to a head Tuesday night. County Commissioners will likely decide the fate of a proposal that could increase taxes to support Washoe County Schools.

It was back in February when AB-46 was first read to the state assembly; fast forward five-months and the governor signed it into law. That only meant that the decision was dropped in the laps of Washoe County Commissioners. They are the ones who will decide tonight if taxpayers will foot the bill to improve our schools.

Two proposals are on the table, a hike in Washoe County sales tax by a quarter percent, and an increase in property tax by five cents for every 100 dollars assessed value.

"A tax increase represents taking money away from you and all other citizens in this county, that is not a simple decision," said Chairman David Humke.

Humke and his fellow commissioners have sat through three different public comment periods since the board first took up the subject in July. In that time they have received more than 700 comments for and against AB-46.

"Of course everybody who speaks makes an impact, and I know I have talked to commissioners and they have listened to everyone," said Humke.

The driving force behind the initiative is of course the school district. They want to use the estimated 20-million dollars a year to improve the 95 campuses across the district.

"It's just like in our homes, we constantly need to address our roofs, our plumbing, our heating. This is what that money will be used for," said School Board President Barbara Clark.

Proponents of 46 say if those repairs aren't made, student learning suffer.

Opponents of 46 say now is not the time to raise taxes.

If the increases are voted through, the cost of a $20,000 car would go up about 50 bucks.

The property tax on a $250,000 home, the average home price in Washoe County, would increase by about $125 a year.

Those tax increases may not seem like much, but you have to consider that this commission has not increased taxes throughout the entire recession.


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