Las Vegas Sun

October 6, 2015

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County backs Metro’s request to Legislature to increase sales tax, add police


Leila Navidi

Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie speaks during an editorial board meeting with Las Vegas Sun staff inside his office in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2012.

Clark County commissioners voted Tuesday to support Metro Police’s request to the Legislature to raise the sales tax by a quarter-cent to hire new officers.

The issue: Metro Police asked for the County Commission’s support when it goes to the Legislature to request an already voter-approved quarter-cent sales tax increase to hire new officers.

The vote: Approved 5-2, with Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani opposed.

What it means: Metro Police will have the backing of the County Commission when it goes to the Legislature in the 2013 session to ask for a quarter-cent sales tax increase.

Voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase in 2004 to hire and equip new police officers, but only a quarter-cent of that increase has been enacted so far; legislative approval is needed before the remaining tax is levied.

The Legislature declined to enact the additional quarter-cent sales tax in 2009 and Metro did not ask for the increase during the 2011 session.

Sheriff Doug Gillespie told commissioners on Tuesday that dwindling property tax revenue and funding cuts from the county and the city of Las Vegas – which supply the bulk of Metro’s funding – have led to the department eliminating more than 300 officer positions in the past several years. Gillespie said more revenue was needed to increase staffing levels, which trail behind the national average for metropolitan police departments.

The resolution the commissioners approved Tuesday also supports Metro’s effort to change the language of the initial sales-tax increase, which would allow the department to use the funds from the sales tax revenue to replace positions that have been cut during the recession. Currently, the sales tax funding can only be used to hire officers for newly created positions.

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