Sandoval Asks For Meetings With Washoe And Clark Counties Over $124 Million In Refund Requests

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today state officials will meet with Clark and Washoe county representatives who are seeking nearly $124 million in refunds from the state – before deciding if litigation is necessary.

Sandoval, attending a meeting of the Board of Examiners, said afterward that Nevadans expect their elected officials to talk over disputes to see if they can be resolved before resorting to the courts.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“I have always been working with local government and I think this is another opportunity to do that,” he said. “I think the people of Nevada, particularly in Washoe County and Clark County, expect their elected officials to work together toward a common good.”

The board, which also includes Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller, agreed that holding meetings on the requests is the best next step to take in the dispute. The board briefly discussed the two demand letters at the meeting.

The meetings will allow for an investigation into the specifics of their claims, Sandoval said. The attorney general’s office, Sandoval’s office and the Department of Administration will have staff attend the meetings.

“I think it is prudent at this point before this matter were to proceed to any type of litigation to begin a dialogue between the state and the respective counties,” Sandoval said. “This is obviously a very complex legal matter that includes an interpretation of a very recent Nevada Supreme Court case.”

Depending on the outcome of the meetings, the Board of Examiners could then make an appropriate decision on the refund requests, he said.

Masto agreed, saying it makes sense to open a dialogue with the counties before moving to any legal action. Ultimately the board will have to decide whether to accept or reject the demands, she said.

The refunds were requested based on the court ruling in May on the Clean Water Coalition case that found the Nevada Legislature improperly took $62 million in 2010 from the local government fund to balance the state budget.

The ruling threw into question several other revenue sources Sandoval had proposed using for his 2011-13 budget, and led to a compromise with Democrats in the Legislature that included the extension of several tax increases that had been set to expire June 30.

But as a result of the Supreme Court ruling, both Clark and Washoe counties have submitted claims to the Board of Examiners requesting refunds of property taxes taken in the 2007 and 2009 legislative sessions to help balance the state budget.

Washoe County is seeking $21.5 million. Clark County is seeking $102.5 million.

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says there needs to be a dialogue with the counties on the refund requests:

091311Sandoval1 :20 Supreme Court case.”

Sandoval says Nevadans expect elected officials to work together:

091311Sandoval2 :12 a common good.”