Las Vegas Sun

December 20, 2014

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Governor’s property tax break questioned

Via Sun columnist Jon Ralston, the AP reports that the Elko County assessor felt pressured into giving Gov. Jim Gibbons a property tax break on some unoccupied land the governor owns up north.

Money quotes from the story:

Gibbons spokesman Ben Kieckhefer called any suggestion of intimidation or criticism of the cattle grazing deferral "ridiculous" and said the governor's property had been grazing land for years, and still is.

He described the legal transaction as "regular" and said there was a lease agreement between the former owner and the governor showing it would be used for grazing.

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"I don't think there's any question," Kieckhefer said.

"This land has been used for this purpose and had this exemption for as far as anyone can remember," he said. "There's no house on it. There's no power on it. There's cattle on it."

Nevada allows agricultural property tax breaks to help farmers and ranchers who eke out a living from the state's harsh landscape. In the early 1990s, the Legislature, concerned that people wealthy enough to buy elbow room were taking advantage of the agricultural deferment, raised the annual farming income threshold on tax-deferred land to require they take in at least $5,000 from agricultural uses. Previously only $1,500 a year was required.

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