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NID may lose revenue to state

Tim Omarzu

Jim Chatigny, general manager of Nevada Irrigation District, predicts the state will take $2 million of NID’s annual local property tax revenue as Gov. Gray Davis scrambles to cover a $23 billion state budget shortage.

It hasn’t happened yet, and the complicated financial and legislative details under which the Davis administration might take the money have a certain eyes-glaze-over-with-boredom level of complexity.

But it’s a sure bet that sooner or later the state will take the $2 million, which is about 10 percent of NID’s current operating budget, Chatigny said.

“Oh yeah, there’s no question. It’s going to go,” he said.

To make up for the shortfall, “We’re going to have to look at acquiring funds somewhere else,” he predicted, or tap into NID’s multimillion-dollar financial reserves.

“That’s why we have reserves … to take care of these emergencies,” he said.

Here are the details:

A decade ago, the state was in the midst of a major recession, so the Legislature transferred about $4 billion in property tax revenues from cities, counties and special districts to schools through ERAF, or the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund.

At that time, NID was one of about 90 special districts exempted from paying into ERAF, Chatigny said.

But the Wednesday revision of the governor’s proposed budget calls for having multi-county special districts, such as NID, pay into the fund, which would generate $45 million.

A bill has been introduced to that effect in the Legislature, Chatigny said.

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