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More Cops tax hike heads to Nevada Legislature along with stadium proposal

Thursday’s call for a special session of the Nevada Legislature includes more than a $1.9 billion domed stadium that the NFL’s Raiders would call home and a room tax increase to help pay the bill.

It also includes a sales tax increase to hire more police officers in the resort corridor, including the Strip, downtown Las Vegas and the new stadium.

The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee on Thursday unanimously recommended a 0.1 percentage point sales tax increase in Clark County, bringing the community into a new More Cops debate.

If the Legislature decides to go forward with the proposal, the County Commission would be asked to implement the tax increase.

Under the proposal, the new revenue would be split into two tiers. The first tier would be based on the number of visitors in the tourist corridors — downtown Las Vegas and the Strip. The funds would go to the Metropolitan Police Department for use in those areas only.

The remaining revenue from would be split up among Metro and the police departments in Boulder City, Mesquite, Henderson and North Las Vegas, based on population.

Metro Chief Financial Officer Rich Hoggan said that most of the estimated $31 million tax increase would go to policing local communities. About $7 million would be earmarked for the tourist areas.

Altogether, the measure could fund an additional 265 officers across the valley.

“That actually gets us to the magical number of 2-per-1,000 that we’ve been striving for for years,” Hoggan said.

The county has a ratio of 1.73 officers for every 1,000 residents. The national average is 2.2 officers per 1,000 residents.

The Nevada Legislature passed a similar More Cops measure in 2013. The ensuing two-year debate centered on how high of a tax increase to pursue and whether to have a tax increase at all. In 2015, the county voted to implement a 0.05 percentage point sales tax increase.

County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who sits on the Infrastructure Committee and Metro’s Fiscal Affairs Committee, said he doesn’t anticipate a drawn-out fight over any increases this time. Because of high-profile terrorism events across the world, “the situation has changed from a few years ago,” he said.

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, a critic of both the stadium deal and previous More Cops tax proposals, said she agrees that police need a boost in staffing but added that the proposal hasn’t been vetted thoroughly enough. She said she will have some tough some questions if it is passed on to the commission.

“I don’t think I will be the only one,” she said.

The Infrastructure Committee also recommended that the Legislature remove the provision that the 2005 More Cops sales tax of 0.25 percentage points sunset in 2025.

If the measure passes as is, the total police share of the 8.25 percent sales tax would be 0.4 percentage points.

Contact Wesley Juhl at wjuhl@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0391. Follow @WesJuhl on Twitter.

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