Voters reject WC-1 Ballot Question to mitigate flooding

RENO, Nev (KOLO) UPDATE: Viewers have rejected Washoe County Question 1 68%, or 102,316 votes, to 32%, or 47,853 votes.

ORIGINAL STORY: Supporters of WC 1 on the November ballot like to point to pictures of the 1997 flood to prove their point. Runways at the Reno Tahoe Airport covered in water. Neighborhood streets practically unrecognizable.

While we haven't seen flood waters from the Truckee River that bad lately, those who back the measure say it’s only a matter of time. Unless we act now.

“This will protect us against the 100-year flood. It adds levies. It straightens out narrows. It takes portions of lands that are currently underwater and adjusts it, or modifies, it straightens out the river. It's just there's a whole series, a whole list which specifically identifies and would be addressed with that $400,000,000,” says Mike Kazmierski, President of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN).

WC 1 asks the voter: "Shall Washoe County be authorized to levy an additional property tax rate for the purpose of paying for the cost of designing, acquiring, constructing, improving and equipping a flood protection project by the Truckee River Flood Management Authority for the Truckee River?"

Kazmierski says on average its means $30 more a year in property taxes in assessed valuation for a $350,000 home in Washoe County. And would allow the authority to issue $89,000,000 in general obligation bonds for Truckee River mitigation.

“Number one, we already pay flood tax. We pay a special flood tax since 1998. Since the flood of '97. It is working. We don't need more taxes. It's just tax, tax, tax. It never ends,” says Jeff Church, with the "No on WC1" cxampaign.

Church says floods of 2005 and 2017 show improvements in place are working. He says our community is planning better in anticipation of flood events. The Virginia Street Bridge he points to as an example, where the new bridge was lifted and crews pulled debris from flood waters, all meant fewer problems downstream.

But Kazmierski says there's a window of matching federal funds that may soon close.

“The federal matching dollars are guaranteed. For now. If we cannot do our part of the flood project it is pretty much, the experts say that that funding will go away,” says Kazmierki.

“When property tax goes up, rent goes up. I am a landlord. I pass it on to my tenants. And we are already the worst in the nation for unaffordable housing,” says Church.

The money will be for the projects along the Truckee River only.
Communities like Lemmon Valley would see none of the money generated by WC 1. That’s because the federal matching funds apply solely to river projects.

This is not the WC 1 ballot question concerning school funding from 2 years ago. While ballot question numbers tend to run from one to ten or beyond, generally the content of those ballot questions and their impact change every election year.