Police remain high priority for county

To the editor:

Your July 21 editorial, “Police funding: Sheriff gets no help from city, county,” was based on two false premises: first, that funding of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is determined by the Las Vegas City Council and the County Commission; and second, that neither the city nor the county make the funding of Metro’s budget a priority.

As it relates to the funding of Metro’s budget being “up to the elected members” of the City Council and County Commission, the truth is that the combined $316 million contribution of our two entities in fiscal year 2014 represents 68.7 percent of Metro’s approved $460 million in budgeted revenues. The balance of Metro’s budgeted revenues comes from a voter-approved property tax as well as other funding sources, none of which are subject to the approval of the county or the city.

The reality is that Metro’s current budget challenges are largely the result of its own declining property tax revenues from the voter-approved manpower overrides of 1988 and 1996, which, ironically, were intended to fund “more cops.” Since fiscal year 2009, Metro’s property tax revenues are down roughly $61 million. This, of course, is no surprise to the county, because we have experienced a $156 million reduction in property tax revenue over the same period.

Regarding the suggestion that the county does not treat the funding of Metro’s budget as a priority, nothing could be further from the truth. In fiscal year 2005, the year the first quarter-cent sales tax increase to fund more cops was enacted, the county committed 14.4 percent of its general fund revenue to Metro’s budget. In fiscal year 2014, the county is committing 17.2 percent of its general fund revenue to Metro’s budget. Stated differently, the county has increased its contribution to Metro’s budget by 30.7 percent since fiscal year 2005, even though county general fund revenue has only grown by 9.7 percent over that same period.

I’d say that without question, funding Metro has been a high priority for the Clark County Commission.

Don Burnette

Las Vegas

The writer is Clark County manager.

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