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Schmidt called before commission

Susan Voyles

3/2/2005 11:04 pm
The Washoe County Commission has called for a closed-door personnel session with tax appeal board member Gary Schmidt, setting off fears among Incline Village residents that he may be singled out for helping them.

The hearing Tuesday would be to consider the “character, alleged misconduct and professional competence” of Schmidt, a longtime citizen activist appointed to the board of equalization by the commission last year.

Commission Chairwoman Bonnie Weber, who signed the letter, said the Schmidt hearing is being called for discussion purposes only. “There’s no talk of booting him off the board.”

Weber’s letter says the commission will return from the closed session to chambers “to take action.”

Schmidt received the letter Feb. 15, the day before the board began hearings over a mass appeal by 1,230 Incline Village residents. By a 4-1 vote, the board eliminated a scheduled 8 percent increase in their taxable land values.

Their victory cost the county more than $450,000 in lost property taxes.

Schmidt said he is baffled why he is being summoned, stating that he “restored the image of an independent citizens review board of the assessor’s work.”

“I think my performance was appropriate and professional. I know the issues. I know the law,” Schmidt said. “I voted with the majority more times than not.”

Over the years, he has filed 26 property tax appeals and says he won most of them at the state level.

Washoe Assessor Robert McGowan said he intends to appeal the Incline case to the state Board of Equalization.

If the tax break stands, McGowan said he would ask that the break be given to all 29,000 parcels in that district. That would far exceed the $450,000 granted thus far.

“All we want is the numbers to be correct and equitably applied to everybody,” McGowan said.

Schmidt’s lawyer, Glade Hall, has sent a letter to the county, demanding complaints against Schmidt be disclosed and then a delay be granted so he can prepare a defense.

In an Incline Village tax revolt committee newsletter, president Maryanne Ingemanson said she fears the county is trying an “end run” to replace Schmidt and void the board’s tax break.

Her newsletter called the timing of Weber’s letter to appear before the board a “blatant attempt” to intimidate him into resigning or voting against Incline’s mass tax appeal case.

Commissioner Jim Galloway, who represents Incline Village, said he’s not at liberty to discuss Schmidt’s hearing. “But somebody’s vote on something cannot be grounds for a hearing like this,” he said. “That’s just one vote.”

Copyright © 2006 The Reno Gazette-Journal

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