Posts Tagged ‘washoe county’

Washoe County Exceeds Registered Voter Record By 10,000 For Nov. 6 General Election

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:37 pm October 17th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Washoe County registered an all-time high of 241,400 voters prior to the close of registration Tuesday, exceeding the record of 231,400 for the General Election in 2008.

Registered Republicans in the county outnumber Democrats by a thin margin of 1,160 voters, with 91,937 Republicans and 90,777 Democrats. Nonpartisan and minor party voters now registered in the county total 58,686.

Photo by Tom Arthur via Wikimedia Commons.

“We’re very impressed with the citizens of Washoe County,” said Senior Deputy Registrar Luanne Cutler. “More than 2,600 registered in the final week and took advantage of our extended hours to do so, and we believe this General Election in our county will be one of the most closely contested in the nation.”

Early voting in Washoe County and statewide begins this Saturday and continues through Nov. 2. There are 22 early voting locations throughout the community and a complete list is available at www.washoecounty.us/voters/12EVSchedule.htm.

Republican-Democrat Voter Registration Gap Remains Close In Washoe County

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 1:39 pm October 1st, 2012

CARSON CITY – While Washoe County voters continue to register for the Nov. 6th general election, the gap between registered Democrats and Republicans remains narrow, county Voter Registrar Dan Burk said today.

“Washoe County is the most closely divided jurisdiction in Nevada,” Burk said. “As of late last week, we have 230,567 registered voters, of which 86,835 are Democrats and 89,443 are Republicans, so it’s just a one percent difference.”

Republicans are 38.8 percent of the total and Democrats are 37.7 percent.

Photo by radder86 via Wikimedia Commons.

Both Republican and Democratic officials agree that Washoe County is a key county in the presidential election in battleground state Nevada. Turnout by voters in the county on election day could affect other important races as well, including the U.S. Senate race.

Burk said the highest number of Washoe County registered voters was 231,400 for the 2008 General Election and this year’s final number could exceed that record.

“We’ll be fairly close to that number,” he said.

Application forms are available at the libraries and most post offices to register by mail, online at www.RegisterToVoteNV.gov and through outside agencies like the DMV and Nevada state Welfare Offices through Oct. 6th. And people can still register or make a change to an existing registration in person in person at the Registrar of Voters office, located at the County Administration complex at the corner of Ninth Street and Wells until Oct. 16th.

Clark County continues to see Democrats outpacing Republicans in the registration battle.

Of the 800,144 registered voters reported by the county today, Democrats totaled 363,009 compared to 253,041 Republicans, for a 109,968 advantage. Another 139,784 are registered nonpartisan, and the remainder are minor party voters.

Earl voting in the election begins Oct. 20.

Lawmakers Long On Ideas, But Public Education Funding Options Remain Elusive

By Sean Whaley | 5:31 am September 18th, 2012

RENO – Northern Nevada state lawmakers and candidates in the November general election identified a number of public education priorities at a forum here Monday, from ending social promotion to paying the best performing teachers more to making much-needed capital improvements to older Washoe County schools.

But those participating in the event held at Reno High School at the invitation of the nonpartisan group Parent Leaders for Education had few specifics about where funding to implement the ideas will come from when the Legislature convenes next February.

Sen. Greg Brower, left, Assemblyman Pat Hickey, and former Sen. Sheila Leslie, far right, participated in a candidate forum in Reno on Monday. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Those participating included Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, and former Sen. Sheila Leslie, a Democrat challenging Brower for the new District 15 seat. Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, who is not up for reelection, also participated, as did Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, who is running unopposed for another term in District 25.

The panel was rounded out with two Assembly Democrats running for new terms and their Republican opponents. David Bobzien faces Heidi Waterman in District 24 and Teresa Benitez-Thompson faces Tom Taber in District 27.

Several of the participants identified the need to find revenue to repair and renovate the Washoe County School District’s older schools as the top priority for the delegation next year.

Kieckhefer said those studying the issue are seeking about $15 million to $20 million annually in revenue that could be used to make repairs to more than half of the district’s schools that are more than 30 years old and are in need of major repairs.

Brower said Washoe County lawmakers are working toward a solution to repair the county’s schools and sell the proposal to Southern Nevada lawmakers who will ultimately have to support any funding option.

“It will be the best investment I think we can make in our schools in Washoe County for decades to come,” he said.

Leslie issued a note of caution to those attending the forum, saying past experience has shown that even bipartisan priorities, such as finding revenue to repair older schools, can be derailed in a legislative session.

“And I don’t want to sound like a cynic, but I’ve been through it several times,” Leslie said. “And so I think meetings like this where you put people on the spot, and I’m willing to be put on the spot and tell you that I will vote for just about any revenue source I can think of right now, to improve our schools. But you need to put the pressure on all of us to make sure that we find a solution and we don’t get to the end of the session and say oops, sorry, can’t do that.”

Brower said he agrees with Gov. Brian Sandoval, who announced earlier this year that he will propose to extend a package of taxes now set to sunset on June 30, 2013, into the next two-year budget to ensure that there are no further budget reductions for public schools or higher education.

But Leslie said the Legislature needs to do more than maintain the status quo and instead find a way to restore the $123 million cut from Washoe County schools over the past five years. Nevada ranks poorly in many national rankings, including ranking 50th in the number of children who attend preschool, she said.

“So obviously we can’t cut any more but what we really need to do is find a way to put that money back,” she said.

Hickey said he does not believe that raising taxes to find more revenue for education is likely to see any serious consideration at the next session. An option he favors is to look at shifting money that now goes to corrections and health and human services to public education.

Spending more on public education now so that money doesn’t have to be spent later on prisons is a better investment in the long term, Hickey said. Even so, several neighboring states, including Utah and Arizona, spend less per pupil but perform better than Nevada, he said.

“It’s wiser to educate than incarcerate,” Hickey said. “So we do need to spend more, we do need to spend wisely, but money is not the entire answer.”

Bobzien, who served as chairman of the Assembly Education Committee in 2011, said a number of major reforms were passed in a bipartisan show of support. But those reforms won’t turn Nevada’s schools around over the long term without adequate financial support, he said.

Waterman said the findings of the Sage Commission, established by former Gov. Jim Gibbons to find ways to make state government more efficient, need to be considered by lawmakers. Eliminating duplicative programs could help find money for public education, she said.

Benitez-Thompson said specific policy proposals are fine, but lawmakers need to look at the overall funding challenges facing public education. Ending social promotion from the third to the fourth grade is fine, but there are costs involved when children are held back, she said. Those children will need additional assistance so they can succeed, Benitez-Thompson said.

Taber said teachers need to be given more control over their classrooms to help their students achieve. Funding also needs to be allocated with a business-oriented approach to ensure it is spent wisely, he said.

“Business sense is important,” Taber said.

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Audio clips:

Sen. Greg Brower says finding a revenue source to repair older Washoe schools will be a worthwhile investment:

091712Brower :24 decades to come.”

Former Sen. Sheila Leslie says the Legislature needs to restore funding cut over the past several years, not just avoid further reductions:

091712Leslie1 :18 that money back.”

 

 

State Board Settles Tax Dispute With Washoe County For $7.25 Million

By Sean Whaley | 5:16 pm September 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The state Board of Examiners today voted to settle a legal dispute with Washoe County over local tax revenue taken by the 2009 Legislature to balance the state budget.

The settlement provides an immediate payment of $1.25 million to the county, with another $6 million being allocated later for major road maintenance projects. As part of the agreement, the road projects will be moved up in the state’s funding priorities.

The original legal claim submitted in 2011 was for $21.4 million, but the county later revised its demand downward to about $17.9 million.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a member of the board, called it a good deal for the state since the projects to be paid for with state highway funds have already been approved for funding by the state Transportation Department. The agreement also makes it clear there is no admission by either side that there is fault or a legal liability for the settlement, he said.

The cash portion of the settlement equates to about seven cents on the dollar, Sandoval noted.

If the highway piece of the settlement is included, the deal provides about 40 percent of what the county had sought in its revised request, said state Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp.

“It’s a good settlement and I think it’s important to recognize, as I said, that there was no admission of liability by either party,” Sandoval said after the meeting. “I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to be having litigation or disputes between governmental entities.”

Washoe County submitted the claim last year, citing a Nevada Supreme Court ruling in May 2011 that said the Nevada Legislature improperly took $62 million in 2010 from the Clark County Clean Water Coalition fund to balance the state budget. The county said the ruling applied to actions taken by lawmakers in 2009 as well.

Clark County has also submitted a claim based on the same legal decision, and is seeking $102.5 million in local taxes also taken by the 2009 Legislature. But the county in June opted to sue rather than continue with negotiations.

Even so, Sandoval said today that negotiations continue with the county to resolve the dispute, which occurred prior to his term as governor.

But the state has just recently received a new claim, from the city of Reno, based on the same Supreme Court ruling.

Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger appeared before the board to briefly discuss the claim filed for $2 million. The settlement with Washoe County approved today did not provide any direct benefit to the city, he said.

Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger.

Sandoval said the claim will be reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office as has been done with the other requests.

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Audio clips:

Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger says the city has also submitted a claim:

091112Clinger :24 aware of that.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval says the settlement is a good deal for the state:

091112Sandoval :28 between governmental entities.”

State Board To Consider Settling Tax Dispute With Washoe County For $7.25 Million

By Sean Whaley | 12:08 pm September 6th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The state Board of Examiners on Tuesday will consider settling a dispute with Washoe County over $21.5 million in local property tax revenue taken by the 2009 Legislature to balance the state budget.

The proposed settlement would provide an immediate payment of $1.25 million to the county, with another $6 million being allocated later for major road maintenance projects.

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

Washoe County submitted the claim to the Board of Examiners in September 2011, citing a Nevada Supreme Court ruling in May 2011 that said the Nevada Legislature improperly took $62 million in 2010 from the Clark County Clean Water Coalition fund to balance the state budget. That ruling forced Gov. Brian Sandoval to reconfigure his proposed 2001-13 state budget by extending a set of taxes that had been scheduled to expire on June 30, 2011.

The county argued the court ruling applied to the funds taken by lawmakers in 2009 as well.

Clark County also submitted a claim, seeking $102.5 million in property taxes also taken by the 2009 Legislature. But the county in June opted to sue rather than continue settlement negotiations with state officials.

Sandoval said in June he was disappointed at the decision of the Clark County Commission to take the matter to court and he questioned whether the amount of the claim was accurate.

“We’ve been trying to work with Clark County, again, for months,” he said in an 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 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.

The Board of Examiners is composed of Sandoval, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller. The agenda for the meeting indicates that both the state and Washoe County want to settle the matter.

Online Voter Registration Expands To Washoe County

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 5:36 pm July 5th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Washoe County residents can now register to vote and make changes to their current voter registration profile through www.registertovotenv.gov and nvsos.gov/votersearch, the online system on Secretary of State Ross Miller’s website.

The Secretary of State’s Elections Division and the Washoe County Registrar of Voters collaborated on the project that allows all voters to have electronic access to their information.

Photo by radder86 via Wikimedia Commons.

To use the online system, citizens need to be at least 18 years old and have a Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driver’s license or DMV-issued identification card. The application process pulls the signature on file with the DMV and applies it to the voter’s registration record, which will then be used for identification for all future elections.

Registered voters can access their voting information at nvsos.gov/votersearch by entering their first and last names, date of birth, and driver’s license number or social security number. From there, they can update their address or change their party affiliation without completing a paper application and submitting it to the Washoe County Registrar of Voters.

Online voter registration is currently available to residents with DMV-issued identification in Clark, Churchill, Lyon, Elko, Humboldt, Pershing and Washoe counties. The Elections Division is collaborating with all Nevada counties to launch online voter registration prior to the general election.

Eligible voters who are presently registered in another Nevada county but living in Washoe County may now register with the online voter system, which is federally funded by the Help America Vote Act.

Residents have until Sunday, Oct. 7 to register online to vote in the November 6 general election.

Sandoval ‘Extremely Disappointed’ Clark County Suing To Recover Funds Taken By Lawmakers In 2009

By Sean Whaley | 1:34 pm June 29th, 2012

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.”

Author=User:Avjoska via Wikimedia Commons.

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.

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he is extremely disappointed that Clark County decided to sue over the refund request:

062912Sandoval1 :10 and resolve this.”

Sandoval says the dispute should be resolved through negotiation:

062912Sandoval2 :12 be in court.”

 

 

Party Officials Agree Washoe Is Critical To Battleground State Nevada In 2012 Presidential Contest

By Sean Whaley | 2:24 pm June 4th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Washoe County Republican and Democratic Party leaders may disagree on who the best choice is for president, but they agree on one point – Washoe is the “battleground” county in the battleground state that is Nevada.

Clark County is expected to go big for Democrats and President Obama, while Nevada’s rural counties are expected to go strong for Mitt Romney. But Washoe County, where Republicans lead in voter registration by 3,700, has gone for both parties in past elections.

Courtesy of Malwack via Wikimedia Commons.

In 2008, Washoe County helped Obama win Nevada and the presidency, giving him 55 percent of the vote.

In 2010, the county went strongly for Republican Brian Sandoval in the governor’s race, although U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., won over GOP challenger Sharron Angle. The county also went for incumbent George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.

Today on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, county Democratic Party spokesman Chris Wicker and county GOP Chairman Dave Buell discussed Washoe’s influence in Nevada in the 2012 presidential contest.

Buell said the fact that Washoe County voters have gone in different directions in past elections make it the flashpoint in Nevada.

“So Washoe County is the place where Nevada is going to be decided, and there will be all types of resources, both on the Democrat and Republican side in this county to make sure that they carry the day for their candidate,” he said.

Wicker said Washoe is winnable by either side if some side “drops the ball.”

“It all boils down that either side, given the right circumstances, could win Washoe County,” he said.

President Obama is aware of Washoe’s importance, making an official visit to Reno last month to talk about a mortgage refinancing plan he wants Congress to approve. Nevada is clearly important overall, with the president scheduled to make another stop in Las Vegas on Thursday.

Romney was also in Las Vegas last week and campaigned around the state ahead of the February Republican caucus.

Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston, among others, has noted Washoe County’s importance in the 2012 general election.

Strong support for either candidate could also provide coattails either to U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., or his challenger Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., in the Senate race. Control of the U.S. Senate is also up for grabs this election year.

Buell was asked if Washoe Republicans might support Obama over Romney this year as many did for Reid over Angle in 2010. Buell downplayed any such idea, saying it was more dissatisfaction with Angle than support for the Democratic agenda that was a factor in the race. The other factor was a belief that Reid could deliver for Nevada as Senate Majority Leader, he said.

Wicker said Democrats will work to ensure a strong turnout for Obama in Washoe County by talking more about the successes of his first administration, including positive job creation numbers nationally over the past several months.

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Audio clips:

Dave Buell says either party can win Washoe in 2012:

060412Buell :23 for their candidate.”

Chris Wicker agrees that Clark County will go for Democrats and the rurals for Republicans:

060412Wicker :16 in the rurals.”

 

Higher Education Budget Could Be Cut Further Under Legislative Proposal

By Andrew Doughman | 3:40 pm May 18th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The budget situation for Nevada’s universities and colleges may have worsened today as legislators voted to both cut and restore funding for higher education.

Democratic legislators first voted to restore $100 million to the higher education budget, but Democrats also continued to oppose a shift of Washoe and Clark County property tax money from county governments to the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

That property tax shift represents $120 million that the universities were counting on in the governor’s recommended general fund budget.

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said legislators fully intend to replace that money with general fund dollars.

But Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, was not so sure.

“That decision has not been finalized,” he said.

Horsford said backfilling that $120 million hole is “one of the options” the Legislature may consider.

If the Legislature does nothing, Nevada’s higher education world may be worse off than it was under Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recommended general fund budget.

“If they don’t replace the property tax money they took out, we’re in very bad shape,” said Jim Richardson, a lobbyist for the Nevada Faculty Alliance.

Richardson said he had thought the Legislature would either apply the property tax shift to all 17 counties or use general fund dollars instead.

Legislature Votes To Reduce Tuition Increase By 13 Percent

Students, however, might feel a little better after legislators on two money committees voted today to support a 13 percent tuition increase spread over the next two years rather than a 26 percent increase, as was proposed earlier.

That would mean the universities would have to find more money because many colleges and universities assumed a 26 percent increase.

“That money has to be cut from somewhere and it would appear that means program cuts and layoffs,” said professor Gregory Brown of the UNLV Faculty Alliance.

The 13 percent tuition increase would bring Nevada’s colleges and universities about $42.4 million during the next two years.

The problem is, higher education administrators were counting on the $120 million worth of property tax diversions in addition to revenues collected through tuition.

The votes, however, all hinge on the Legislature passing new taxes or extending current ones, which are scheduled to sunset June 30. If that does not happen, legislators would have to re-examine these actions.

“We closed the budget, but the funding has not been identified so you can’t get too excited yet,” Smith said. “All you can count on is what we did today, and that’s contingent on us finding the revenue …It’s a budget in motion.”

Sandoval has recommended a two-year, higher-education budget that was $254 million less than the amount of money the Legislature approved during the 2010 special session.

That would be reduced to a $112 million cut if the Board of Regents approves the tuition increases and the Legislature finds $100 million to give to colleges and universities. The Legislature would also have to find $120 million to replace the funding that would have gone to higher education through the local property tax diversion.

Before today, legislators had anticipated following Klaich’s four-point plan, which would have called for $80 million in new revenue and a 26 percent tuition increase.

Students had testified before a legislative committee about keeping tuition low before legislators voted to recommend a 13 percent increase to the Board of Regents, which makes the final call on student fees.

Republicans largely objected to the $100 million in new revenue.

“I don’t know where we’re going to get the money to pay for this,” said Assemblyman Randy Kirner, R-Reno. “I just think we don’t have the money. At this point in the game, this is kind of where I have to stand.”

At this point in the legislative game, legislators are debating taxes.  Sandoval included spending $6.1 billion in his 2011-2013 general fund budget. Democrats want to spend about $7 billion, with $626 million coming from extending taxes set to expire June 30 and the rest from new taxes on business and services like haircuts, attorneys and brothels.

“Bottom line is: there are taxes being paid that if continued would cover this [$100 million],” said Horsford.

Legislative committees also earlier supported a 4.8 percent salary cut to university employees, adding between $7.5 and $10 million in extra spending because the governor recommended a 5 percent cut.

“The reality is, the work is not done because we still need to get folks to pay for it,” Horsford said.