5 commissioners favor More Cops tax hike

It looks as if Clark County’s latest More Cops tax proposal has the votes to pass.

Clark County commissioners Tuesday scheduled a Sept. 1 public hearing for the long-sought sales tax increase, which needs a supermajority of five votes for final adoption.

No public comment was offered on the topic during the meeting, nor was any sought from Sheriff Joe Lombardo. County leaders’ only remark came from Commissioner Susan Brager, who sought to clarify the size of the suggested increase, which would add .05 cents to sales taxes levied across the county.

She and four other commissioners have expressed support for the move. Only Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, a longtime opponent of the tax, has said she would oppose the measure.

The proposed increase — meant to help pay for more officers at police departments around the county — would raise the county’s sales tax rate from 8.1 percent to 8.15 percent, generating an estimated $19.4 million over each of the next 10 years, including $14.6 million annually for Metro.

That’s around two-thirds of the total that would have been raised through a failed November proposal and only one-third the sum the county is allowed to collect under state law.

The commission’s discussion of the measure came a little more than a week after Commission Tom Collins, a stubborn More Cops tax proponent, unexpectedly submitted his resignation to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office.

State Assembly Minority Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick on Tuesday was appointed by Sandoval to replace Collins on the commission. Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, said prior to her appointment that she hadn’t examined the More Cops tax proposal and wouldn’t say which way she would lean on the issue.

Collins, who cited “family matters” in his Aug. 10 resignation letter, had taken an all-or-nothing approach to past iterations of the levy, frequently touting the maximum allowable increase and loudly opposing toned-down proposals like the one now sought by his former colleagues.

With the self-styled “cowboy commissioner” out of the way, Commissioners Larry Brown and Steve Sisolak — who helped co-engineer the new proposal with Lombardo — seem to have a smooth path to passage.

As early as last week, four out of five elected commissioners expressed tentative support for the effort.

Commissioner Mary Beth Scow, who once looked as if she might provide the swing vote on the proposal, removed any remaining suspense Monday, telling the Review-Journal she planned to support the move.

“I’m very comfortable with this amount,” Scow said of the tax. “I think it’s unfortunate it took this long.”

Scow couldn’t shake the feeling that the measure’s revival “may or may not have something to do” with Collins’ resignation.

Four other commissioners have said the effort has nothing to do with the three-term Democrat’s exit.

Giunchigliani said she was “surprised” both by the timing of the new More Cops proposal and the often outspoken commissioner’s departure.

Contact James DeHaven at jdehaven@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3839. Follow him: @JamesDeHaven

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