CARSON CITY – North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck and Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick clashed Thursday after the mayor said the state should be fair and give her city $25.8 million a year in additional state taxes.
"North Las Vegas has been contending with this inequity (since) 1981," Buck told members of the Assembly Taxation Committee and Senate Committee on Revenue.
Noting that the city has been shorted by at least $20 million a year for the past six years, she said it now receives from the state revenue equivalent to $168 per person from the "C" – consolidated – taxes that include sales, liquor, cigarette and other taxes.
That compares with $376 per person that the city of Las Vegas receives, $547 for Boulder City, $437 for Mesquite and $291 for Henderson.
"That is a lot of money to be shorted," Buck said.
But Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, angrily shot back that 100 percent of her constituents are North Las Vegas residents and she wasn’t "going to lie to them."
"This formula was never based on population," she said. "I have freakin’ said that for two years."
The distribution of funds to the base accounts of local governments also depends on assessed property values and other factors.
"The failure to adjust the current base allows the inequity to remain," said Buck, who suggested "politicians" may have been responsible. "North Las Vegas’ bases remains uncorrected and needs to be changed so we start out in an equal footing."
"There are no politicians in this room," Kirkpatrick replied.
Kirkpatrick chaired an interim committee that recommended changes to the tax distribution formula that are contained in Assembly Bill 68. The changes mainly deal with how any additional tax revenue would be divided up by local governments, not with the base amounts they receive.
She mentioned that she asked for input on the bill from North Las Vegas and other cities but received only perfunctory responses from North Las Vegas while other cities were fully engaged in helping her committee. But North Las Vegas did complain during her interim committee hearings that they were shorted $20 million a year.
In a Tuesday meeting, Kirkpatrick mentioned that she was disappointed that her community planned an amendment to the bill.
Only North Las Vegas and Fernley have refused to sign on to support the bill. Representatives from a line of cities marched before the committee Thursday to give their support. Most praised Kirkpatrick.
No action was taken on the proposal Thursday. Kirkpatrick wants approval by March 15.
Assembly Taxation Chairwoman Irene Bustamante Adams asked other cities in Clark County to quickly give her their written views on North Las Vegas’ amendment.
After the meeting, Fernley lobbyist Mendy Elliott said her city of 19,000 residents receives $7 per person a year from "C" taxes. Without an adjustment like the one sought by North Las Vegas, Fernley also will continue to be shortchanged, she said.
Fernley expects no help from the Legislature and is proceeding with a lawsuit against the state over what it considers an inequitable tax distribution formula, Elliott said.
During the hearing, North Las Vegas lobbyist Dan Musgrove said the Legislature in 2001 approved an amendment that gave Henderson an additional $4 million in its base formula and North Las Vegas needs the same consideration.
He said their plan proposes only taking a share of the growth in tax revenue and not all money from the other cities’ base accounts.
The overall tax revenues available to Clark County cities is expected to increase by $61 million this year and $75 million next year.
But Kirkpatrick responded that Henderson received a $4 million adjustment, not $25 million. She compared the difference between the Henderson and North Las Vegas’ requests to "the price of a Twist candy bar to a McDonald’s meal."
The year Henderson received the additional funds, Henderson resident Richard Perkins was speaker, and he pushed hard for his city to get the revenue.
When asked whether communities in Clark County would be hurt by giving the additional funds to North Las Vegas, Applied Analysis analyst Jeremy Aguero said townships and special district that also receive C taxes might receive less funds. Aguero worked on the bill.
Musgrove compared the situation between the cities in Clark County to "a family of siblings fighting over the same toy. Sometimes you have to go to Mom and Dad."
Bustamante Adams later agreed that state has to play the role of a parent.
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.