CARSON CITY — Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie told a panel of state lawmakers Thursday that an increase in the local sales tax of 0.15 percentage points will fill a $30 million hole in his budget and ensure 300 current police officers continue to patrol the streets of Southern Nevada.
The increase in the county’s sales tax rate would generate an estimated $33 million annually, saving those 300 positions and allow the hiring of 40 to 50 additional officers, he told the Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee.
“This tax is more important today in my opinion than it has ever been in the past,” Gillespie said.
The committee did not immediately vote on the measure.
The bill has passed the Assembly, and Gov. Brian Sandoval has said he would sign the legislation since voters approved the tax increase back in 2004.
The tax increase contained in Assembly Bill 496 would also need a two-thirds vote from the Clark County Commission before it could be implemented beginning Oct. 1.
The bill also would suspend current language prohibiting the use of the money to supplant other funding until 2016 to give the agency more flexibility in how it is put to use.
The Clark County Commission and the Nevada Resort Association both support the measure.
But Brian McAnallen, representing the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, said the organization does not support the request for additional revenue. However, it does support removing the supplanting language, McAnallen said.
Richard Boulware, representing the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, supported the tax increase as well, but asked that 7 percent of the funding be set aside for body cameras for police officers because of concerns about the deadly use of force by police and the costs to taxpayers for settling such cases.
Gillespie told the committee that he has made a commitment to move forward with body cameras, although it won’t be a departmentwide initiative.
Gillespie objected to making the use of such cameras part of the bill authorizing the tax increase.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900.