Officials react to ‘tax grab’

CARSON CITY — Local government officials complained Friday about legislative “tax grab” plans that target them to help close a $1.1 billion gap in Nevada’s budget for the next two fiscal years.

Lawmakers have advanced plans to redirect 4 cents for every $100 of property value from the county to the state, and to strip funding from the “indigent accident account” used to pay hospital costs for treating people who lack insurance and personal funds and are hurt in auto accidents.

City and county officials held a news conference on Friday to question the ethics of the lawmakers’ actions, and said that the cuts to county revenues could endanger critical services they provide.

“Looking at us to solve the financial problems for the rest of the state government is a stretch of the imagination,” said Elko Mayor Michael Franzoia. “We don’t have the revenue stream to make up the difference.”

Sparks City Councilman Ron Schmitt said, “I do not believe there was one citizen in the state of Nevada that voted to raise the property tax for capital improvement funds, just to give that up to the state.”

Reno City Councilwoman Jessica Sferrazza suggested it was time to consider allowing voters to weigh in on whether the state should be allowed to take county tax money. She proposed an advisory question to address “home rule,” which would give counties more power in relation to the state.

SB264, a bill introduced by Sen. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas, calls for a study to examine “home rule” issues between legislative sessions.

An advisory question would not be enough to change the Nevada Constitution, but would make voters’ opinions known to lawmakers.

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