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Washoe Co. School District warns it may have to sue the County

(KOLO)
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 3:17 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Washoe County Board of County Commissioners has approved a plan to repay homeowners in Incline Village and Crystal Bay, and it may bring a new lawsuit from the Washoe County School District.

The County’s decision Tuesday was intended to settle a two decade legal battle over claims of over-taxation of residents in Incline Village and Crystal Bay.

To repay the homeowners, the County Commission voted to withhold $20 million from the Washoe County School District and lesser amounts from the Incline Village General Improvement District, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District and the State of Nevada.

“As stewards, we will continue to serve and work with our fellow partners,” said County Commissioner Bob Lucey. “However, this is something that we need to take care of, move forward, and address.”

The WCSD Trustees argued, however, that it is not the School District’s responsibility to repay the funds. “Funds never distributed to schools and taken from current taxpayer students,” said WCSD Trustee Andrew Caudill. “The vast majority of the district’s budget is for school staff. You know these people. They are taxpayers and neighbors in your county.”

In his statement to the County Commission, WCSD Chief General Counsel Neil Rombardo argued that a claim for overpayment of taxes has a three year statute of limitations. Rombardo says the taxes were paid 17 years ago, so the statute of limitations expired 14 years ago.

The WCSD maintains the County is solely responsible for the liability and not the District. Rombardo warned in his statement, “If the Commission chooses to ignore those words, the District will have no choice but to seek judicial relief against the County in order to protect its limited valuable resources for its students, families, teachers, staff, and taxpayers.”

The District has not said yet if it will move forward with a lawsuit for that “judicial relief.”

The WCSD Chief Financial Officer Mark Mathers says the approximately $20 million liability represents about 40 percent of the District’s General Fund balance.

Mathers told the Commissioners in his statement, “Whether that is paid out over the next several years or not, the level of this reduction of revenues will seriously impact our financial position and ability to fund current service levels.”

Read the public comments submitted by Chief General Counsel Neil Rombardo below:

Read the public comments submitted by Chief Financial Officer Mark Mathers:

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