CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval says he is disappointed that Clark County has decided to sue to recover $102.5 million in property taxes taken by the 2009 Legislature to balance Nevada’s budget, but said the “state is on very solid ground in this case.”
“We’ve been trying to work with Clark County, again, for months,” he said in a Thursday interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program. “And I was extremely disappointed that they weren’t willing to come to the table to try and resolve this. And those chose to litigate rather than try to work it out.”
The county submitted a claim for the money to the state Board of Examiners in September 2011 following a Nevada Supreme Court ruling in May 2011 that said the Nevada Legislature improperly took $62 million in 2010 from the Clean Water Coalition fund to balance the state budget. Washoe County submitted a claim for $21.5 million to the state citing the same case.
Negotiations had been under way between the state and Clark County for several months before the lawsuit was filed. Washoe County has not sued to recover the taxes.
“As I say, at the end of the day, I think it would be more prudent, and more reasonable, for the Clark County Commission to work and try to resolve this short of litigation,” Sandoval said. “It doesn’t do any good for the state and counties to be in court.”
Sandoval said he does not believe Clark’s claim, “is anywhere near” $100 million.
“If we have to, we’ll play this out in court and see what the outcome is,” he said.
The Supreme Court Clean Water ruling led to an agreement by Sandoval and a majority of state lawmakers to extend a set of taxes that were set to expire on June 30, 2011, into the current budget to balance the spending plan. The tax extension replaced local revenues Sandoval had originally proposed to use to balance the state budget.
Based on the Clean Water ruling, the two counties decided to seek the return of money used by the 2009 Legislature as well. The Legislature in 2009 required the state’s two largest counties, Clark and Washoe, to give up 9 cents per $100 in assessed valuation collected in property taxes to the state. The actions by lawmakers in 2009 occurred before Sandoval became governor.
“I am disappointed that after months of negotiating, we have not been able to reach an agreement,” Clark County Manager Don Burnette told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a report published June 14.
Gov. Brian Sandoval says he is extremely disappointed that Clark County decided to sue over the refund request:
Sandoval says the dispute should be resolved through negotiation: