Another sequel to More Cops is about to make a debut.
Clark County commissioners introduced Commissioner Tom Collins’ proposed More Cops sales tax increase on Tuesday. A public hearing and vote is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Nov. 19 on the proposal, which is intended to raise money for police officers at the Metropolitan Police Department and other agencies in Clark County.
The measure, if approved, would incrementally increase the 8.1 percent sales tax rate to 8.25 percent by 0.15 percentage points in two phases by July 1, 2014.
Getting the five-vote supermajority of the seven-member commission appears unlikely, given recent decisions on other More Cops sales tax proposals. Commissioners on Oct. 1 rejected two separate More Cops proposals.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Susan Brager said her proposal for a 0.075 percentage point sales tax increase still stands. Her proposal fell short by one vote of passage on Oct. 1, with Collins voting “no.”
Asked Tuesday if he would change his stance to get the smaller tax passed, Collins dismissed the notion.
“It’s not part of my equation,” he said. “I’m all in.”
Instead, Collins said, his goal is for the county to get to the full 0.15 percentage point increase by July 1, 2014.
Under his proposal, an initial 0.10 percentage point increase would start in April, followed by an additional 0.05 percentage point increase in July.
He said it will benefit Las Vegas and the other departments, which include Henderson, North Las Vegas, Mesquite and Boulder City.
“They all want and need the money,” Collins said.
The Legislature this year passed a law allowing Clark County to increase the sales tax rate by up to 0.15 percentage points so police agencies in the county would have money to hire more officers.
The full 0.15 percentage point increase garnered only three votes of support, from Commissioners Larry Brown, Tom Collins and Lawrence Weekly.
Brager’s proposal of a 0.075 percentage point increase had four votes of support, with Collins joined by Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak and Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani in opposing the increase.
The law gives county officials the flexibility to bring More Cops proposals back for reconsideration until 2016.
There are alternative scenarios. For example, commissioners could scale down Collins’ proposal in a motion so it matches Brager’s increase instead.
Brager said it’s possible her proposal could come back at the same meeting, and she is still consulting with the county’s legal counsel about the details.
“Anything’s possible,” she said, adding that she wants to see more police officers in the county.
Her proposal would pay for more than 125 police officers. Brager is steadfast in not supporting raising the sales tax rate by the full 0.15 percentage points, opting for the smaller increase solely devoted to more officers — not filling a budget gap. She also maintains she’s open to revisiting an additional increase in the future.
As for Collins’ proposal, Brager said, “I don’t believe the votes are there.”
Commissioners opposed to giving the full tax increase have unsuccessfully prodded Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie to partially tap into his existing More Cops account, which has revenues from a 0.25 percentage point sales tax increase that started in 2005. About 520 officers are paid through the revenues.
The account had $139.2 million at the end of June, according to a financial statement. The account will have an estimated $26 million remaining in 2025.
Gillespie has resisted, saying he needs to hold money back for when the tax sunsets in 2025 to pay for the officers covered by that account. He has said the full 0.15 percentage point increase would bridge a $30 million budget shortfall, paying for about 250 existing officer positions and 100 new cops.
Even if Collins ends up changing his mind on Brager’s proposal, his initial Oct. 1 vote against it will cost the Metropolitan Police Department, which serves the county and the city of Las Vegas, three months of lost revenues.
At this point, any new tax enacted would start in April 2014. With an Oct. 1 vote from the commission, any new tax would have started in January 2014.
The lost estimated revenues from Brager’s proposal for three months amount to slightly more than $6 million for police agencies in the county, of which $4.47 million would have gone to the Las Vegas department.
Gillespie wasn’t at Tuesday’s meeting and had no comment when contacted by the Review-Journal. On Oct. 1, he asked commissioners for the full 0.15 percentage point increase and didn’t support the smaller tax increase.
Then he left empty-handed.
Contact reporter Ben Botkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.