Assessor Mike Clark Denounced by Sparks City Council

Reno City Council members, Washoe County School Board Members, and many other local elected officials have endorsed my campaign to replace current Washoe County Assessor, Mike Clark. Much of this comes in reaction to his highly partisan and purposely misleading campaign opposing Senate Joint Resolution 14 (SJR14), a proposed constitutional amendment to property tax law under consideration in Nevada’s legislature.

Sparks City Councilman Ed Lawson, speaking on behalf of the Mayor and the entire Sparks City Council (all Republicans), calls out Assessor Clark as well for fear-mongering and purposely creating confusion by grossly misrepresenting the specifics of SJR14. (You can read his full statement below or click here.)

I would add to the Council’s issues with Mr. Clark that the Assessor has no vote or ability to make tax policy. If he really feels strongly about this issue he should be running for a state senate or assembly seat where SJR14 will be up for debate, not Assessor. In fact, Mr. Clark, as Washoe County’s Assessor, was invited to testify before the state legislature on SJR14, but he refused, which makes the motivation for his protestations suspect.

I heard Mr. Clark’s anti-SJR14 screed before a homeowner’s association in the primary. I, too, can attest that it was riddled with inaccuracies meant more to create fear for partisan political purposes than to clearly articulate the facts. Sparks City Council’s denouncement of Mr. Clark is warranted.

I think they would agree, it’s time for a change in the Assessor’s Office.

Senate Joint Resolution 14 is about fairness | Lawson

Ed Lawson | Reno Gazette Journal | Published 1:57 p.m. PT Oct. 22, 2018

As regional policymakers, we are disappointed by the campaign of misinformation that Washoe County Assessor Michael Clark has been spreading to unsuspecting residents of the county, including those living in our great city of Sparks. Clark’s misleading statements are factually wrong and leading to voter confusion.

SJR 14 is designed to remove property tax inequities that can result when comparing homes of equal value. SJR 14 would have the effect of “resetting” accumulated depreciation and abatement back to zero upon the purchase of an existing home, thus ensuring the property taxes are the same as if the house was newly built.

Contrary to Assessor Clark’s stated position, passage of SJR 14 will not raise your property taxes if you remain in your current house. Even more importantly, SJR 14 gives you, the voter, the power to make the decision at the ballot box in 2020 if approved by the 2019 Legislature. SJR 14 will ask the voters whether you want to correct this inequity or not. It is the ultimate form of democracy, and we should all support it.

Understanding this complex issue of depreciation and a reset of property tax at the time of a sale can be confusing to anyone, and our county assessor is preying on unsuspecting voters in Washoe County. Let’s use the following examples to help clarify the inequities that SJR 14 is trying to rectify:

In assessed year 2016, someone who purchased a typical $250,000 Sparks house built in 2013 will pay approximately $2,000 in property taxes. In contrast, if that same person bought a house next door of equal value in Sparks, but the house was built in 1965, they will pay less than $1,000 in property taxes. Depreciation currently stays with a house forever no matter how many owners the house has had. Two families living next to each other, and one family paying half the amount of property taxes, makes no sense. Both families are enjoying the same parks, driving the same roads, going to the same schools; however, one family is paying half of what the other family is paying? Do you see the inequity here?

Making our property taxes equitable and fair is what SJR 14 is all about. SJR 14 will not raise your property taxes if you remain in your current house. Plain and simple, no double talk, no complexity, SJR 14 is about fairness for the people of the City of Sparks and every resident of Washoe County. We are the only state in the nation that severely limits property taxes in this manner. SJR 14 is simply attempting to right a wrong by “resetting” accumulated depreciation and abatement back to zero upon the purchase of an existing home.

Ed Lawson represents Ward 2 on the Sparks City Council. He writes on behalf of the Sparks mayor and council members.