RENO — Officials hoping to bring the 2018 Winter Olympics to the Reno-Tahoe area are awaiting results of a survey designed to gauge community support for the venture, including a willingness to use tax money to help finance it, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki said.
Krolicki, chairman of the Nevada Commission on Tourism and a supporter of the Reno-Tahoe Olympic movement, said while most of the money to finance the games would come from private sources, taxes would have to be part of the equation.
“The tax money would be used for improvements of the infrastructure,” including transportation needs and facilities at the University of Nevada, Reno, he said.
But the survey, he said, deals with more than taxes.
“I don’t want to overemphasize the poll’s mention of taxes,” Krolicki told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
“It is a broad questionnaire, just to see where people are. But if the overwhelming response is no taxpayer dollars in any way should be used to fund the Olympic effort, then I think we will take that to heart.
“But it changes the quality of what we will be able to do and the infrastructure we feel we need to be successful,” Krolicki said.
Without tax money, Reno-Tahoe would be hard-pressed to compete with other North American venues that also may want the 2018 Winter Games, Krolicki said.
“We can anticipate certainly areas like Denver to put a bid forward,” Krolicki said. “They have spent millions of dollars already in preparing their bid. So, we need to make sure we have the wherewithal and the assets to do this well.”
The survey, done by Research 2000 of Washington, D.C., is expected to be presented to the Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition on Friday, then made public next week.
Reno Mayor Bob Cashell said that with the 2018 Games still a decade away, it is too early to be alarmed about using tax money, which is now in short supply.
“There is no question that a tax would have to be part of the overall game plan,” Cashell said.
“But it is hard for me to say. I have not seen their budgets and I have not seen how much corporate money would be coming in because it is going to be a lot more expensive 10 years later than it would be now.
“If the prices go up 10 percent a year, well, I don’t know what taxes they would be earmarking. Are they talking about a fuel tax or property tax, room tax or a tax on liquor?”
Jim VandenHeuvel, CEO of the Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition, also said taxes are not a major focus of the survey, but he wouldn’t elaborate.
“I don’t want to tip on the survey until my board has seen it,” VandenHeuvel said. “Taxation was not one of the primary issues.”
Krolicki said the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, which had a price tag of more than $1.3 billion, would be used as a model for the possible Reno-Tahoe Winter Games.
More than $500 million in federal, state and local taxes were used to help fund the Salt Lake City event, he said.