Sunday, June 20, 2010 | 2 a.m.
In today's Sun
Nearly 17 months ago, at the same time she proposed the elimination of the work card requirement for most occupations, Clark County’s director of business licensing presented many other cost-saving and revenue-generating ideas to county commissioners.
Jacqueline Holloway’s sterling presentation seemed a hallmark for what government can do when it sets its employees to a task. Commissioners commended her. Cutting costs had become a countywide imperative, as tax revenue was dropping by double-digit percentages and state lawmakers began to talk about taking Clark County’s money as a possible way to balance the state’s budget.
But only a few of Holloway’s suggested changes have been made since she proposed them.
The county relinquished responsibility for child care licensing to the state. This unfunded state mandate cost the county about $648,000 in fiscal year 2009. The county also is “actively deferring” duplicative background investigations to the state. In an e-mail to the Sun, the business licensing department did not provide an estimate as to how much the deferment has saved.
Other ideas Holloway pitched as ways to raise revenue, cut costs and increase efficiency included:
• Development of “a seamless and expeditious licensing process that issues temporary licenses while ensuring public safety inspections within 45 days.” An expedited service program, Holloway said, would have cost the county about $290,000 but would have raised about $3 million in revenue annually. The program has not been developed.
• Start uniformly charging film crews a $45 application fee, which is written into the code. The county has never collected the fee, a spokesman said, because it doesn’t want to dissuade film companies from working here.
• Offer to expedite the film permit process for a $500 fee. The thought was it could generate $200,000 a year. But Holloway’s department has yet to forward a formal proposal to make this happen. One county government insider says the proposal is ready but recent warnings by county commissioners against adding fees during these tough economic times have wilted any desire to bring it forward.
• Offer a “master license” that would allow casinos and other large multifaceted businesses to consolidate many licenses into one. A county spokesman said a master license “is in the test phase.”
• Offer Internet renewal of business licenses. The county wants to test an online renewal system in the first quarter of 2011 — two years after Holloway proposed it.
When Holloway made her presentation, Commissioner Steve Sisolak was just one month into his first tenure on the board. He was full of expectations. He said he has since learned that government most often moves at a glacial pace.
“It just takes a long time to work through the bureaucracy of the government and that’s the problem,” he said. “We’ve got to try to simplify things, but it’s complicated and for us to make a change seems to involve so many moving parts.”
But the need for speed, he added, is all the more important with tax revenue projections not looking up.
“Everything now is equating to jobs and if we save $75,000, that could be a job saved somewhere else, or it’s simply a savings for the taxpayer.”