Clark County Question #2: The Clark County School District Capital Projects Property Tax
A lot of people think that the new school property tax will only cost them about 75 bucks a year.
Others think that the tax is only on new houses.
Think again! You're about to get screwed.
The wording of every ballot question should be very carefully crafted. But maybe this wording was too crafty. Maybe crafty enough to make voters think that the cost of this tax would be a lot less than it really is. Let's look at the official ballot wording for Clark County Question No. 2:
Shall the Clark County School District be authorized to levy an additional property tax rate of up to 21.2 cents per $100 assessed valuation for capital construction for schools for a period of up to 6 years, commencing on July 1, 2013? The cost for the owner of a new $100,000 home is estimated to be $74.20 per year. If this question is approved by the voters, any property tax levied as authorized by this question will be outside of the caps on a taxpayer's liability for property (ad valorem) taxes established by the legislature in the 2005 session.
How much is this tax going to cost you? Did you say $74.20? Odds are, you're really wrong.
Just like Clark County School District Trustee Chris Garvey was really wrong when she said: "I think I could shell out $75 a year."
Wrong Chris. It's actually going to cost you $288. That's more than 3X more! We don't know if you were lying or trying to make people think it was only a $75 tax, or maybe you just don't understand how YOUR tax works, but either way, it was a lie and you were wrong.
How do we know that Chris is going to pay $288? We can read AND do math.
We looked up Chris' house (6601 Cowboy Trail) on the Clark County website. Then we saw that her total taxable value was $307,291 and that her total assessed value (35% of total taxable value) was $107,552 for 2012-13. Then we did the math, based on the question:
"additional property tax rate of up to 21.2 cents per $100 assessed valuation"
$107,552 / 100 = 1,075.52
1,075.52 x 0.212 = 228.01
(Jump to What You're Really Going To Pay)
Simple, really. But sad too. This "mistake" is going to be a surprise to Chris at tax time. But that's okay. We think she can afford it, since she lives in a house worth so much more than $100,000.
But what about the tax only being for new homes? Good question. It's not. It's for all properties: Houses, apartment complexes, commercial real estateall taxable properties, new and old.
So why is the word "new" in the question? That's a good question! Confused? Maybe that was the point.
$74.20 is a lie. It is for Chris. It probably is for you, too.
And it's not really a "capital projects" tax or a "capital construction" tax either. There's this little bit of legal wording in the explaination of the question that gets printed in the Sample Ballot:
The proceeds of the capital projects tax will only be used for capital projects for schools, including but not limited to, constructing and equipping school improvements and replacements, and acquiring school sites.
So, what does this mean? First, "not limited to" means "unlimited." So they "will use the money only for capital projects for schools," unless they want to use the money for something else (the "not limited to" part) that they consider falls under their definition of capital projects, like books or iPads, or whatever they can think of.
And by publishing this wording in the Sample Ballot, the CCSD has fully disclosed to the voters what they really intend to do with our money, so we can't claim fraud or that the use is in violation of what some people might have thought they actually voted for.
One last thing: If the median home cost in Clark County is $124,109 for an existing home and $198,300 for a new home, why was $100,000 used in the question? That's so far below the median, it's like low-balling the example in the question so that the tax doesn't seem so bad. Actually, it's exactly like low-balling the exampleand it's a nice round easy number to deal with that looks good on a ballot. Based on the median taxable value of an existing home in Clark County ($124,109), the tax would be $92.09 a year or $552.54 over the 6 year life of the tax. For a new home, the median cost is $198,300 making the tax $147.14, almost 2X the example amount in the question (and $882.84 over the 6 year life of the tax).
What You're Really Going To Pay
|Total Taxable Value
(What Your House Is Worth)
|Total Assessed Value
|YOUR Cost of Voting Yes
|YOUR Cost of Voting Yes
6 Year Total
(existing home median)
(new home median)
You're being conned and taken advantaged of by the CCSD.
They wrote the questionand they knew exactly what they were doing.
$74.20 is a lie.
The wording of the ballot question is misleading.
It's so misleading that Clark County School District Trustee Chris Garvey
either didn't understand it herself (the way they hope that you don't understand it)...or just plain lied.
They knew it when they wrote it, and now you know it too.
$74.20 is a lie. Vote NO on Question Number 2.
Clark County School District Trustee Chris Garvey: "I think I could shell out $75 a year."
District weighs property tax hike to repair, modernize schools, Las Vegas Sun, Feb. 10, 2012.
Clark County Assessor's Records for Parcel Number 125-24-303-002
Garvey Thomas P & Christine A, 6601 Cowboy Trail, Las Vegas, NV 89131
Median Home Cost: It's important to note that this is not the average (or arithmetic mean). The median home price is the middle value when you arrange all the sales prices of homes from lowest to highest. This is a better indicator than the average, because the median is not changed as much by a few unusually high or low values. The data used was provided by the Clark County Registrar on August 3, 2012 who cited The 2012 Las Vegas Perspective research report published by Applied Analysis showing a median price for a new home as $198,300 and The Clark County Assessor's Office stating that the median taxable value of an existing home is $124,109. We use median home costs since the taxable value of real property is the appraised value of the land and the current replacement cost of improvementsbasically, what your house would sell for (see below).
Taxable Value: Taxable value is the value of property as determined by the Assessor using methods prescribed by Nevada Revised Statutes and the Department of Taxation regulations. Generally speaking, taxable value of real property is the appraised value of the land and the current replacement cost of improvements less statutory depreciation.
Assessed Value: The property value determined by the County Assessor and used by the Treasurer to calculate a tax amount. The method of determining the assessed value is specified in Nevada Tax Law (NRS 361) and by regulations from the Nevada Department of Taxation. The assessed value is stored at a rate of 35% of the taxable value of the property.