Don’t interpret “fair” taxes to mean “lower”

Peter Van Nortwick wants to make one thing clear: While he has been campaigning for Clark County assessor on the slogan, “Stop Unfair Property Taxes,” nobody should interpret that to mean he’s promising lower property taxes.

Van Nortwick responded Thursday to a political advertisement by his opponent, Janet Seekins. The ad says, “Don’t be fooled by those who claim if elected they will … lower your taxes.”
Van Nortwick maintains the office unfairly assesses values and that results in some people paying too much in property taxes while others pay too little.

Seekins has said Van Nortwick doesn’t understand how to do mass appraisals.

The ad also calls out Van Nortwick, a self-employed appraiser, on his promise to save firefighters. Seekins, who works in the assessor’s office, wrote that “the Assessor does not create declining real estate markets or state levy limits that determine funds available for fire services.”

Van Nortwick has pledged to make sure homes are assessed at 100 percent of market value in order to collect more money for fire services in districts, such as Clark County Fire and Rescue’s district, that have bumped up against the levy lid.

Clark County, on average, assesses property at 92 percent of market value, according to the Department of Revenue. The state average is 87 percent of market value.

Seekins’ ad also says Van Nortwick has claimed that he will require “schools, churches and parks to pay taxes.”

What Van Nortwick has said is that he doesn’t think government-owned property should be tax-exempt. But making the government pay property taxes would require an amendment to the state constitution.

— Stephanie Rice

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