VILLAGE LEAGUE TO SAVE INCLINE ASSETS, INC., A NEVADA NONPROFIT CORPORATION, ON BEHALF OF THEIR MEMBERS AND OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED; DEAN R. INGEMANSON, TRUSTEE OF THE LARRY D. & MARYANNE B. INGEMANSON TRUST; DEAN R. INGEMANSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS TRUSTEE OF THE DEAN R. INGEMANSON TRUST; J. ROBERT ANDERSON; LES BARTA; KATHY NELSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS TRUSTEE OF THE KATHY NELSON TRUST; ANDREW WHYMAN; ELLEN BAKST; JANE BARNHART; CAROL BUCK; DANIEL SCHWARTZ; LARRY WATKINS; DON & PATRICIA WILSON; AND AGNIESZKA WINKLER, Appellants,
THE STATE OF NEVADA, BOARD OF EQUALIZATION; WASHOE COUNTY; WASHOE COUNTY TREASURER; AND WASHOE COUNTY ASSESSOR, Respondents.
from a district court order dismissing a petition for
judicial review of a State Board of Equalization reappraisal
decision. Second Judicial District Court, Washoe County;
Patrick Flanagan, Judge.
and remanded with instructions.
J. Azevedo, Carson City; Snell & Wilmer, L.L.P, and
Suellen Fulstone, Reno, for Appellants.
Paul Laxalt, Attorney General, and Dawn Buoncristiani, Deputy
Attorney General, Carson City, for Respondent Nevada State
Board of Equalization.
Christopher J. Hicks, District Attorney, and Herbert B.
Kaplan, Deputy District Attorney, Washoe County, for
Respondents Washoe County, Washoe County Treasurer, and
Washoe County Assessor.
appeal is a continuation of a dispute between many taxpayers
from the Incline Village and Crystal Bay areas of Washoe
County and respondent Nevada State Board of Equalization
concerning the State Board's failure to equalize property
values as required by NRS 361.395 for tax years 2003-04,
2004-05, and 2005-06. In this appeal, we must determine
whether the district court erred when it dismissed a petition
for judicial review of the State Board's interlocutory
administrative order and whether the district court's
decision is appealable to this court. Additionally, we are
asked to determine whether the interlocutory administrative
order issued by the State Board, requiring reappraisals of
properties around Incline Village and Crystal Bay for the tax
years in question, exceeded the Board's statutory
authority by seeking to equalize property values nearly a
decade before the date of the order.
we conclude that this court has jurisdiction to consider the
district court's dismissal of the petition for judicial
review. We further conclude that the district court erred
when it dismissed the petition for judicial review because
the State Board exceeded its statutory authority to order
reappraisals pursuant to NRS 361.395. Accordingly, we reverse
the district court order dismissing the petition for judicial
review and instruct the district court to grant, in part, the
petition for judicial review and vacate the State Board's
interlocutory administrative order directing reappraisals of
the properties in the Incline Village and Crystal Bay areas
for the tax years in question.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Village League to Save Incline Assets, Inc., filed a class
action complaint in the district court in 2003 alleging, in
relevant part, that the State Board failed to carry out its
constitutional obligation to equalize property valuations in
Incline Village and Crystal Bay and sought damages and
declaratory relief directing the State Board to conduct the
annual equalization of property values required by NRS
361.395. Respondents Washoe County, Washoe County Treasurer,
and Washoe County Assessor (collectively, Washoe County) were
also named in that action. Because Village League failed to
administratively challenge the property valuations before
filing the complaint, the district court dismissed the
complaint, and Village League appealed the district
court's decision in 2004 (2004 appeal).
the 2004 appeal was decided, in opinions published in 2006
and 2008 arising from separate cases, this court determined
that assessment methods used in 2002 to value properties at
Incline Village and Crystal Bay for real estate tax purposes
were unconstitutional. See State ex rel. State Bd. of
Equalization v. Barta, 124 Nev. 612, 627, 188 P.3d 1092,
1102 (2008); State ex rel. State Bd. of Equalization v.
Bakst, 122 Nev. 1403, 1416, 148 P.3d 717, 726 (2006). In
Barta and Bakst, this court concluded, as a
remedy, that because property is physically reappraised once
every five years and the assessment methods used in 2002 were
unconstitutional, the taxable values for the
unconstitutionally appraised properties were void for the tax
years beginning in 2003-04 and ending in 2007-08.
Barta, 124 Nev. at 623-24, 188 P.3d at 1100;
Bakst, 122 Nev. at 1416, 148 P.3d at 726. As a
result, property taxes in those years were to be based on the
taxable values previously established for the 2002-03 tax
year. Barta, 124 Nev. at 628, 188 P.3d at 1103
(holding invalid any assessments based on the invalid 2002
taxable values); Bakst, 122 Nev. at 1416-17, 148
P.3d at 726 (invalidating the 2003-04 tax year assessments).
Village League's 2004 appeal, this court reversed in part
the district court's dismissal of the declaratory relief
claim seeking statutory equalization and remanded the case to
the district court for it to decide the viability of the
claim. See Village League to Save Incline Assets, Inc. v.
State ex rel. Dep't of Taxation, Docket No. 43441
(Order Affirming in Part, Reversing in Part and Remanding,
March 19, 2009). On remand, Village League filed an amended
complaint and petition for a writ of mandamus, asserting that
the State Board was required to ensure a uniform and equal
rate of assessment statewide. The district court denied the
petition, and Village League again appealed.
appeal, this court again reversed in part the district
court's decision. See Village League to Save Incline
Assets, Inc. v. State ex rel. Bd. of Equalization,
Docket No. 56030 (Order Affirming in Part, Reversing in Part
and Remanding, February 24, 2012). The case was remanded, and
the district court subsequently issued a writ of mandamus
ordering the State Board to hold a hearing and fulfill its
equalization duty for all tax years in which unconstitutional
methodologies were used, beginning with the 2003-04 tax year.
The State Board was also required to report back to the
district court regarding its compliance with the writ.
front of the State Board, Village League argued that all
property owners in the Incline Village and Crystal Bay areas
were entitled to the same remedy provided to the taxpayers in
Bakst and Barta, which involved setting
property values to the last constitutionally assessed level
and issuing refunds. The State Board found that some
properties located in the Incline Village and Crystal Bay
areas were valued in 2003-04, 2004-05, and 2005-06 using
methods that were unconstitutional but there was no evidence
that these unconstitutional methods were used outside of the
Incline Village and Crystal Bay areas for the tax years at
State Board, concluded that, with the exception of NRS
361.333 concerning equalization by the Nevada Tax Commission,
there were no statutes or regulations defining equalization
by the State Board prior to 2010. Ultimately, the State Board
determined that although no statewide equalization was
required, regional equalization in the Incline Village and
Crystal Bay areas was. Relying on a 2010 regulation, the
State Board issued an interlocutory administrative order
directing reappraisals of all properties in the Incline
Village and Crystal Bay areas in which unconstitutional
methodologies were used for the disputed tax years
(hereinafter, Equalization Order).
required, the State Board submitted its report to the
district court indicating that it had complied with the writ
of mandamus. Village League objected to the report, arguing
that the Equalization Order did not comply with the
writ. Village League also filed a petition for
judicial review in the district court challenging the
Equalization Order and the State Board's power to order
reappraisals of properties for the 2003-04, 2004-05, and
2005-06 tax years. Further, the taxpayers from the
Bakst and Barta cases (collectively, Bakst
intervenors),  whose property values for the disputed tax
years had already been established, filed a motion to
intervene in the district court action, arguing that the
Equalization Order directing reappraisal of their properties
threatened the previous final judgments. The district court
granted the motion to intervene.
State Board moved to dismiss the petition for judicial
review. The district court granted the motion because it
concluded that the Equalization Order was interlocutory and
review of the State Board's final decision would provide
an adequate remedy. Village League appeals the dismissal of
the petition for judicial review, arguing that the State
Board does not have the authority to order reappraisals. The
Bakst intervenors appeal, making issue and claim preclusion
threshold matter, the State Board argues that the district
court properly refused to review the Equalization Order
because it was a legislative action of general applicability,
not an adjudicative action. The State Board and Washoe County
also argue that this court lacks jurisdiction to consider
this appeal because the district court did not enter a final,
appealable judgment in a contested case. Finally, they
maintain that neither Village League nor the ...