This letter is in regard to a headline which ran in the Free Press on Friday, December 11, entitled “Tax Battle at Airport."
I am perplexed as to why the city would not want these properties to pay ad valorem taxes. If the judge rules in favor of the city there will be approximately $156,650 less coming to the City, County, Convention Center, SnoBowl, Senior Citizens Center, Fair Board, Jail, Juvenile Probation, Medical Indigent, Hospital Indigent, Youth Services, TV District, State of Nevada, Museum and the School District which will be the big loser of at least $67,400. At the tax rate of 3.4823 the city receives 92 cents which is 26 percent of the total ad valorem tax paid.
The City Attorney, Dave Stanton, is quoted as saying “The amount of benefit to the city would be substantial were we to prevail on this.” How can the City benefit when they would lose at least $40,729 plus all attorney fees and costs associated with the case?
This property is in no way essential to the operation of the airport. Why should they not pay taxes when properties across the Mountain City Highway have to pay full bore? I pay $22,418.49 in taxes for Cimarron West.
City Manager Curtis Calder declared having the property tax exempt would offer an incentive for future companies interested in leasing airport property. The long term plan is to lease as much property of the airport as possible. Curtis Calder would have the city in direct competition with private enterprise. The city property in this area has always been in demand because of its location in regard to Mountain City Highway and will remain so in the future.
Calder also told the Free Press that lease agreements with tenants have always been neutral on whether the property was taxable or not. The lease agreement with the lessees in question (Aspen Plaza, Section 2.02 additional assessments and charges) reads in addition to the rent payable under this section, lessee shall pay and discharge promptly as the same become due and before delinquency all taxes and assessments, whether general or special, of every kind which may be levied or assessed.
The requirement to pay all taxes is in no way neutral. The city should bring an action to collect the taxes due by Aspen Plaza not forgive their tax bill.
The Airport requires a large subsidy from the taxpayers of the City of Elko. To let such taxpayers as Aspen Plaza off the hook not only does a great injustice to city taxpayers but also to the other entities that depend upon property taxes.
The state statute (NRS 361.157(2xa)) has been thoroughly vetted by the State Board of Equalization, Attorney General and Nevada Supreme Court. These decisions confirmed property such as those leased by City to Aspen Plaza are subject to property taxes.
Hopefully the City Council and Staff will investigate further and decide against further action on this frivolous petition for judicial review.
If and when a judicial review is held on this matter, it is right and proper that taxpayers in general be on hand to oppose any exemption.
John C. Carpenter