By Mike Donahue
Moapa Valley Progress
The $24 annual property tax assessment local residents are charged via the Moapa Valley TV Maintenance District (MVTVD) has been approved by the district’s board of directors for fiscal year 2011-2012 although one member voted against the continuance.
Board member Bob Lyman, who voted against continuing the tax assessment during the board’s regular meeting on April 6, said he had been approached numerous times by Moapa residents who complain that the property tax assessment is not fair since they live in an area the district’s signal does not reach.
“I voted against it (the tax assessment) because they (residents) are not only being charged for something they can’t use, we’re making them — we’re making everyone — pay taxes on a private commercial enterprise product,” Lyman said. “I really don’t think that’s right.”
Basically, MVTVD’s goal, which was formed in 1959, is to improve television reception in the Moapa Valley area by receiving, boosting and rebroadcasting signals originating from Las Vegas and Utah stations. The district acquired land on the hill at I-15 and U.S. 169 near the Overton/Logandale exit and erected a small building and an array of antennas.
Because of its height and location, the district’s television antennas can receive television signals that those living in the deep local valleys cannot. Once received, the TV district boosts and rebroadcasts the incoming signal making it available to local residents. Unfortunately, the rebroadcast is essentially a line of sight deal – if you can see the rebroadcast antenna you get the signal; if you can’t you don’t. This means that those living in certain areas such as Lytle Ranch and Warm Springs in Moapa are unable to get the TV district’s signal.
The TV district encompasses Moapa, Warm Springs, Glendale, Logandale, Overton and Overton Beach and in fiscal year 2008-09 its board of directors began a $24 property tax assessment for properties listed under a slew of residential use classification codes established by Clark County.
Although the county classifies the properties, the TV district board of directors decides which classification fall under its assessment parameters. For example, if a property is listed as a 1-10 which is a single family residence, it pays the tax. If the property is listed as a 5-20, ranch, property owners are not assessed the tax. Hotels, motels, restaurants and recreational vehicle parks pay. Service stations, warehouses, shopping centers and barber shops don’t.
As a result of the assessment, the TV district has about $60,000 in annual revenues. Since mid 2009, when the government mandated all television stations start broadcasting using only a digital signal, the majority of that revenue has been used to switch old analog equipment over to digital.
As a result, the TV district has made available 19 individual digital stations to a vast majority of Moapa Valley residents and is currently working to convert four more frequencies which could result in eight more stations being available.
Where Lyman contends it’s not fair or appropriate to assess people in the district if they can’t receive and use the signal, other members on the board counter that the tax is similar in nature to a school tax or a library tax.
“You still pay a tax assessment for schools even if you don’t have kids,” said Daniel Pray, board chairman. “You are taxed for the library whether you use it or not, it’s just that simple.”
Other board members point to the benefits many local residents have received from the TV district and property tax assessment.
“A lot of the folks in Moapa Valley can’t afford to have cable and dish television, especially a lot of seniors,” said John Hudrlik. “Being able to get free (commercial) TV is great for them.”
Board member Roy Wilmer, who has done a tremendous amount of physical work for the TV district acquiring and setting up equipment, agreed.
“More people are being forced to shut down the dish, cut off the cable because they can’t afford them,” Wilmer said. “The signal we provide is helping them. My whole thing (with MVTVD) is to help people get the signal who can’t afford other means. I’m trying to do this to help people.”
Wilmer said that while it’s unfortunate some residents are not able to receive MVTVD’s signal, the vast majority of people who live in the Moapa Valley communities can.
“If you look at the overall population numbers there are a lot in the general viewing area who benefit from the signal,” he said.
Chairman Pray said currently the most important goals for the district are changing everything to digital.
“Once we get that done, then we’ll begin working to get everyone in the TV district to where they can receive the signal,” Pray said.
To reach that point, the MVTVD board will have to outlast Lyman, who believes the district’s rebroadcast digital signal is just as outdated as the analog.
“The whole thing is outdated technology,” he said. “There are better ways to get television.
“I am basically trying to destroy the board,” he added. “I would vote in a second to disband it. That’s the only reason I’m on it.”