New software at the Pershing County Assessor’s Office has uncovered errors in a number of previous property tax assessments causing increased tax bills. The unexpected back taxes drew protests during public comment at last week’s Pershing County Commission meeting.
“Everything has been the same for thirteen years and now, all of a sudden, the taxes are going to go up,” a property owner said. “That’s my complaint. I hope it can be looked at and rectified.”
Property owners questioned the fairness of bills for back taxes the county failed to bill them for earlier. Assessor Laureen Basso-Cerini said letters to explain the situation were sent, that state law left her no choice in the matter, that the county commission makes the final decision on tax corrections and told the county board “these tax corrections are going to keep coming at you.”
“I have to bring each of these (tax corrections) before you and there are at least 15 to 20 more pending from the prior appraisal cycle,” she explained. “You can anticipate that this will go on until a full five year appraisal cycle is completed…This is what the new software does. It is cleaning up what is referred to as ‘dirty data’ and it’s unfortunate for everybody that’s involved.”
A property owner at the meeting to protest their tax bill said “somehow, it doesn’t seem right.”
“I’ve paid taxes since 1965 so somewhere this doesn’t come out fair,” she told the board.
In her 19-year career, only one taxpayer notified her that a tax bill was low, Basso-Cerini said.
“Most taxpayers do not react until there’s a correction made and/or an increase happens,” she said. “I’ve had one taxpayer, a local farmer, say to me, my tax bill is $40,000 too short, you need to do a correction which triggered five others, seven others. There’s four other people I was hoping would be here. I haven’t heard a word from them. Actually, one man paid his (tax) in full.”
The county commission voted unanimously to approve the property tax corrections.
“It really hurts me, in a sense, but I’m going to make a motion that we approve the corrections as they are presented for all the years,” Commissioner Carol Shank told property owners. “We can’t look at it as the ability to pay, we have to look at it as the taxes.”
County Clerk Lacey Donaldson confirmed her office will accept payments on the back taxes.
In other news:
Basso-Cerini told county leaders that Pershing County will host the annual Nevada Assessors Association Conference near the end of April. Planned social events include a Marzen House Museum tour, an ice cream event, a tour of the Kruze Road Winery and an awards banquet.
“We tried to share the love amongst all of our businesses as best we could,” she said.
The county commission voted to double annual stipends paid to the Lovelock Volunteer Fire Department Chief and the LVFD EMS Director, now referred to as the “Ambulance Clerk.”
LVFD Chief Rodney Wilcox will now be paid an annual stipend of $8,667 by the county. The county pays 65 percent of the stipend and the City of Lovelock pays 35 percent of the stipend.
The Ambulance Clerk will get an annual stipend from the county of $15,274. The county pays 100 percent of the stipend while the City of Lovelock contributes nothing to the stipend.
The county had advertised a full-time Emergency Medical Services Coordinator job then offered the job, with a starting salary of $40,000, to EMS Director Marti Nolan who declined the job offer.
As Ambulance Clerk, Nolan will still be held responsible for ambulance billing paperwork, volunteer EMT training and certification. As a volunteer EMT, Nolan will still respond to ambulance calls as needed and will provide the board with monthly ambulance reports.
Wilcox agreed to also provide written monthly reports on local fire calls to the county board.
The Bureau of Land Management donated a brush truck to the LVFD. Wilcox said the apparatus has already been delivered to the firehouse and LVFD will officially take possession later this month. The four-wheel drive truck will provide off-road access to brush fires in isolated areas.
Wilcox said he and Mike Heidemann continue with fire inspections in the city and county.
“We did the library, the community center, the annex building yesterday and some local businesses,” Heidemann said. “Again, some of the things we are dealing with at the local businesses, we’re working with the city on. All the county buildings looked really good. Just some minor little notes that we put on the forms and gave to the appropriate people.”
The board approved a contract with Revize, LLC for new website software. Staffing, agendas, minutes, special events, job openings, election and other information will be updated as needed. Online forms will be streamlined for building permits, business permits and job applications.
“We’re looking forward to getting you a nice, updated website and adding some of those features to make it much easier for your citizens to get in touch with you online,” Revize Account Manager Dylan Johnston told the county commission.
IT Director Justin Abbott commended the county’s new IT Technician Amanda Burrows.
“She’s doing a fantastic job,” he said. “It’s nice to know that I can be here taking care of this and IT services for the county don’t stop. She’s been able to take a lot of the load off of me. I’ve been able to focus on upcoming projects. There’s a lot of departments that have equipment requests. I’ve been working on that and she’s been able to take care of our employees.”
Burrows’ request to continue her outside employment at Burrows Farms was approved.
County Commissioner Larry Rackley said a new system will track aircraft takeoffs and landings at Derby Field Airport at no cost to the county. The data could be useful for grant applications.
“There’s airport funding partly based on activity at the airport, in other words takeoffs and landings,” he told the board. “We don’t have an accurate way of counting those. Armstrong, our airport engineer, said there’s a system that’s easily installed at no cost to us.”
The system requires installation of an internet connection and three antennas on top of the pilots’ lounge at Derby Field. Rackley will work with NNIS (Northern Nevada Internet Service) to complete the installation and that cost could be covered by a federal CARES grant, he said.
MARZEN HOUSE MUSEUM
Donations to Marzen House Museum of a gazebo by Cathy Bryant and a 1930’s railroad house by Chad and Megan Simmons were approved after the titles were received by the county.
“Those are two great additions,” Rackley told the board.
The board also approved Frankie Graham’s request to join the Museum Advisory Board. The Lovelock native is employed by Coeur Rochester Mining in the Human Resources Department.