Clark County’s redevelopment program is expected to be suspended Tuesday so its $11 million in yearly tax money can be spent on schools, police and other services, including $5.1 million for the county itself.
County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, who spearheaded the move, said she might support restoring the 5-year-old program when the economy improves and construction rebounds.
For now, there are better ways to spend the money as the county struggles with a tightening budget, she said.
"In these economic times and because we have no projects moving forward, it just makes sense not diverting that money" to redevelopment, Giunchigliani said.
When she first proposed suspending the program, questions arose about whether it was legal. Officials determined that shelving the program would not break state laws.
Although the county has tried to attract developers, not one has built anything within the three redevelopment zones in the east Las Vegas Valley, Giunchigliani said.
The county designated two areas on East Sahara Avenue and one at Twain Avenue and Maryland Parkway.
After a redevelopment zone is created, increases in property tax revenue within that area go into a fund to pay for improvements or foster business growth. That method is known as tax increments.
If the yearly $11 million is pulled from the program, about $4.2 million would go to the state for schools.
Also, $5.1 million would be funneled to the county, $870,000 to the state, $410,000 to police and $417,000 to libraries.
Commissioner Lawrence Weekly said the Clark County School District faces a severe budget crunch and needs every dollar it can get.
"Anything is better than nothing," Weekly said. "If it saves a teacher, if it buys another textbook, then it’s good."
The school district plans to lay off 852 employees, including 209 teachers, in response to a projected budget shortfall.
Giunchigliani noted that the county has amassed $35 million in its redevelopment fund. If commissioners freeze the program, the $35 million would remain available for new construction, design work or for the county to buy parcels. The money can’t be used to fix up buildings, unlike the city of Las Vegas’ fund.
While the city’s redevelopment zones are in a downtown core, the county’s are a small patchwork in an unincorporated area.
The county will use some redevelopment money for designing a mixed-use, "transit-oriented" project near the Commercial Center, off Sahara Avenue, Giunchigliani said. Transit-oriented communities are set up so residents can conveniently walk or take a bus to stores, restaurants and parks, she added.
The county should focus on enhancing and developing commercial sites, she said. "We’re overstocked in our housing."
Contact reporter Scott Wyland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-455-4519.