CARSON CITY — Lawmakers on Friday asked backers of three Las Vegas-area stadium proposals why the Legislature should approve a bill that would divert tax money to finance construction of a professional sports venue.
The developers went before the Assembly Committee on Taxation to support Senate Bill 501, which would create an opportunity for the Clark County Commission to pick one of three “facility district” options to help finance a project.
The committee spent more than two hours grilling developers before taking a recess. Most of the toughest questioning was aimed at identifying how the bill might affect businesses, taxpayers and Nevada’s financially challenged state government.
“Without direction and without clear intent, it could be a real cluster at the end,” said committee Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas. “You either do it the right way or I don’t care if it ever makes it.”
Each of the proposed facility districts is slightly different from the other, but the combined result is a bill that contemplates diverting some combination of sales, live entertainment, property and other taxes within certain boundaries to back bonds developers would use to fund construction.
Each option also is tailored to fit a different proposal, meaning that if the bill passes and the Clark County Commission chooses to create one of the districts, the project that fits that district will have an advantage over the others.
“It seems it could get very political,” Kirkpatrick said.
The project proposals represented at the hearing included:
–A proposed stadium, retail and residential project at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas that would benefit from an option in the bill for a district requested by the Nevada System of Higher Education
–A downtown Las Vegas arena project, which would benefit from a district to be created in a redevelopment area
–A proposed soccer-baseball-basketball project west of Interstate 15 near Mandalay Bay which would benefit from an option in the county’s jurisdiction
Committee members asked questions about all the options proposed in the bill, but zeroed in on provisions that could stick businesses, taxpayers or the state with larger tax bills.
Assemblyman Pete Livermore, R-Carson City, wanted to know why provisions in the option for downtown Las Vegas included the imposition of a $1,000 assessment on parking spaces within 3,000 feet of the proposed district.
“If I had a liquor store and I had eight parking places, are you going to tell me I have to pay $1,000 for each parking space?” Livermore said. “I think it is very unfair taxation.”
The Taxation Committee is scheduled to resume the meeting at 2 p.m. for more testimony.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3861.