Clark County commissioners face a key decision on Jan. 21 — whether to raise the sales tax to pay for more police officers.
On Tuesday, they introduced Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s proposal for a phased-in sales tax increase. If approved after the Jan. 21 public hearing, the measure would start with a 0.075 percentage point increase in the sales tax rate in October. That increase would generate about $25.8 million annually for police agencies countywide, with about $19 million going to the Metropolitan Police Department.
Gillespie’s phased-in approach is a tool of compromise that’s intended to put 101 more officers on the streets. It also seeks to address criticism that his existing More Cops account, which started in 2005 to hire more officers, should be tapped. It currently has roughly $140 million.
If the county approves that increase, the Metropolitan Police Committee on Fiscal Affairs would have to adopt a budget for the next fiscal year, which starts in July, that whittles down the department’s existing More Cops account to $100 million or less.
From there, another 0.075 percentage point increase in the sales tax rate would start in October 2015. As a condition, Metro’s existing More Cops account would need to be reduced to $75 million or less.
If the plan goes through, by October 2015, the sales tax in Clark County will be 8.25 percent, up from the current 8.1 percent.
Under the plan, 51 additional officers for the department would be hired in fiscal year 2015, which starts in July 2014. Fifty more officers would then be hired in 2016, which starts in July 2015.
For the measure to pass, five of the seven commissioners will need to approve it. In the past, commissioners have been unable to pass the increase.
The revenue would also aid the police departments of North Las Vegas, Henderson, Mesquite and Boulder City.
Contact reporter Ben Botkin at email@example.com or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.