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City not in danger of losing leased solar land for back taxes

The city is not in danger of losing almost 400 acres of land in the Eldorado Valley that is currently being leased for a solar project should the lessee not catch up on its back taxes.

Acciona is leasing the land for its for Nevada Solar One project and, according to the Clark County assessor’s website, the company owes almost $163,000 in unpaid taxes and fees for the fiscal years 2013 to 2017.

City Attorney Dave Olsen said the city will “absolutely not” lose the land if Acciona doesn’t pay the taxes.

The status of the land was questioned after Clark County deeded the parcel into the name of its treasurer as a trustee for the state and the county. This action is done for all property that is delinquent for three consecutive fiscal years, per state law, providing an avenue for it to be auctioned for not paying the taxes.

Olsen said that the leases these companies sign require them to pay the taxes once they exercise the lease option for it.

“They don’t have a leaseholder interest until they exercise that option,” he said.

Acciona Energy, a subsidiary of Acciona of Madrid, Spain, built the Nevada Solar One project in 2007.

Prior to exercising that option, the land does not generate any taxes because it is owned by the city.

“Cities, counties and the state do not pay property taxes on their land in Nevada because they are the beneficiaries of the taxes … so essentially if they paid taxes, they would be paying themselves,” said Boulder City spokesperson Sue Manteris.

Once the company exercises that option and becomes the leaseholder, it is responsible for taxes that it accrues on that land. Ultimately, if Acciona does not pay its taxes, it could lose its lease for the land in the Eldorado Valley.

“If there is a material breach of the lease, the city can nullify the lease and take back the land,” Olsen said.

Olsen doesn’t think that will happen, as the company would not only have to pay the back taxes to Clark County but it would also lose all the money it had invested in developing the property.

Some of the solar leases also have an option in which the city could pay the taxes and then put a lien on the company.

Olsen does not think that will need to happen in this case.

“We are in the process of contacting these outlets and telling them they owe these taxes,” he said.

Manteris echoed Olsen’s statement and said the city is currently getting in touch with the leaseholders.

“We believe the leaseholders may not be aware of the situation,” she said.

Last week Manteris said it appears that “notices may have been going to wrong addresses. … The city is working right now on contacting them and the county to let them know what is going on.”

“All of these companies are on tight budgets … but if they can’t afford to pay their taxes, they shouldn’t be doing business out there,” Olsen said.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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