County Assessor Opposes City Purchase of RGJ Building (Opinion)

Note: The Reno City Council will consider tomorrow the possible purchase of the Reno Gazette Journal’s building at 955 Kuenzli Lane for up to $7 million. Agenda item link.

Submitted by Mike Clark, Washoe County Assessor

Washoe County Assessor Mike Clark is asking the Reno City Council and City Staff to reassess the financial implications of purchasing the Reno Gazette-Journal offices and re-purposing the 7-acre riverside parcel as a new Reno Police Department headquarters.

“While we can appreciate the need for a new RPD headquarters, the fiscal impact statement from the staff report is inaccurate,” Clark wrote in a letter delivered to the Council on Monday. “It does not take into account the lifetime of lost tax property tax because of its use as a government facility. An RPD Headquarters may not be the highest and best use for this unique parcel along the Truckee River.”

Clark said in the letter that the role of the Washoe County assessor is to be the taxpayers’ representative in the office, tasked with ensuring that they are well-served both in terms of issues related to their assessments and providing the state and local government accurately assessed values on property within the County. It is through property taxes that Washoe County’s governments provide services to the people within their jurisdictions.

“Not getting a parcel’s true value, or worth, puts an unnecessary burden on the rest of the taxpayers,” he wrote.

The Staff report says the City has designated $7 million in this year’s budget for the purchase of the parcel at 955 Kuenzli Street. Another $5 million is being donated to City for site improvements by the William H. Pennington Foundation. The total cost of purchase, permitting, and construction is estimated at $26.4 million, according to the Staff Report.

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“The unique riverside location may also require permitting and mitigation that is not indicated in the project estimates,” Clark said. “With a motor pool facility next to the region’s drinking water supply, there may extraordinary environmental mitigation costs associated with this type of land use,” he wrote.s purchase price or assessment of the property.

“Reno’s emerging presence in the high-tech and manufacturing economy has stimulated positive growth and notability,” he added. “Corporate headquarters or office space, downtown housing, resort or commercial/retail may offer a higher and better use alterative for this parcel.”

The Reno City Council is scheduled to direct staff on the potential purchase at the Reno City Council Meeting this Wednesday, July 24 at the City Hall, One East First Street, Reno, NV 89501

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  1. If the loss of property tax off the rolls, why didn’t the Washoe County Assessors Office speak up on the all of the STAR Bonds Deals and the assessed devaluations of the casinos properties in the downtown areas in the past?

  2. It’s a single-purpose-design building that did not exactly fall into escrow the first year it’s been on the market, and holds appeal to only a limited number of users. That section of the Truckee is not the source for our drinking water. The nearby sewer processing plant is already vastly overburdened with little apparent attention being paid to improving it, and the presence of a motor pool is a drop in the literal bucket in comparison to the sewer plant’s contribution to our water woes. And the day that decisions are made based upon taking a property off the tax rolls, last one out of the valley, get the lights; STAR bond discussion waived here as superflous!

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