CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Washoe County officials are reviewing a
state Supreme Court ruling to determine how they will refund millions of dollars in property taxes to residents in Incline Village and Crystal Bay.
While estimates of the refund came out to about $13 million in 2009, county officials are now estimating that, with interest, they could owe the residents up to $40 million, impacting the Washoe County School District, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, Incline Village General Improvement District and the state, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported Friday.
The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the county's appeal of a 2009 district court decision that agreed with a series of previous tax panel decisions, saying 8,700 residents paid too much in property taxes in 2006-07 and should have paid at 2002-03 levels.
Thursday's decision ended nine years of legal battles between the Village League to Save Incline Assets and Washoe County after residents complained their properties had been improperly assessed.
Maryanne Ingemanson, president of the organization, said Bob McGowan, former county assessor, had evaluated their properties
based on things like their view of the lake without getting approval from the state to do so.
"I saw it in the beginning and felt it was wrong," she said. "I spoke with the assessor at the time and was effectively told to go pound sand. So I said OK, game on. Nine years later we effectively achieved our goal."
County officials say the court ruling will exacerbate the county's budget, which is already facing a $33.8 billion revenue shortfall.
Finance Director John Sherman said the county may have to look at taxing unaffected Washoe County property owners to cover the refund if general funds are not available.
"At this time we are reviewing the written Supreme Court's decision to evaluate its impact upon all Washoe County taxpayers," said David Creekman, Washoe County assistant deputy district attorney.
County commissioners are expected to discuss the ruling at a meeting next week.