Commissioners to begin talks on More Cops sales tax increase next week

By early August, Clark County residents will know whether their sales tax rate is going up from the More Cops initiative.

If county commissioners approve the measure, the sales tax rate will increase from 8.1 percent to 8.25 percent, with the extra revenue going to help county police agencies — primarily the Metropolitan Police Department — with staffing costs for officers.

Commissioners will have an initial discussion about the matter at their July 2 meeting. The final vote is Aug. 6.

“We need that five-vote majority, and that’s what we’ll be looking for,” Sheriff Doug Gillespie said Monday after the department’s Fiscal Affairs Committee meeting.

Gillespie has said the increase would keep about 300 police officers on the job, along with filling a $30 million budget gap. He said the department would not be able to hire more than 100 additional police officers under the proposed sales tax increase. The money can cover salaries, benefits and equipment for officers.

“There will be people for it, and there will be people against it,” he said. “My approach is present your case.”

The tax will pass if commissioners vote the same way they did on a December resolution showing the Legislature their support for increasing the sales tax rate. Commissioners voted 5-2, with Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak and Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani opposed.

On Monday, Sisolak, also a member of the Fiscal Affairs Committee, said he remains concerned about the proposal.

“I think any tax has to be fair and broad-based, and I question if this is either,” Sisolak said. “It’s just not broad enough based.”

He said that residents don’t have to pay a sales tax on manicures, pedicures or massages but do have to pay sales tax if they’re buying school supplies for their child.

At the Monday meeting, the committee approved a resolution that recognizes the change that the Legislature made this session. That change gives the police department the flexibility to use the sales tax revenue to replace or supplant existing funding for police officers through June 30, 2016. The resolution doesn’t increase the sales tax rate.

If the sales tax is approved, the earliest it could go into effect is Oct. 1.

Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal. com or 702-405-9781.