Las Vegas Sun

July 19, 2019

Currently: 86° — Complete forecast

Panel zeroes in on tourism projects, but stadium recommendation pending

Fremont St. Police Walk

Justin M. Bowen

Metro Police Officers Rachel Calderon and Bryce Jones patrol Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas on foot Monday, Aug. 8, 2011, as part of an initiative called Crime Free Corridor, a plan to reduce in crime in the downtown area.

After more than a year of meetings, the group Gov. Brian Sandoval created to identify and vet tourism-related projects is zeroing in on its recommendations.

The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee has offered a glimpse of four recommendations in a final report draft posted Monday to its website.

The four recommendations involve the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion, Metro Police funding and McCarran International Airport fuel sources. A fifth recommendation — regarding the much-hyped stadium proposal — is pending.

The group will reconvene at 1 p.m. Thursday. In the meantime, here’s a look at the recommendations drafted so far:

Las Vegas Convention Center

The committee recommends increasing the Clark County hotel room tax by 0.5 percent to fund the expansion and renovation of the existing Las Vegas Convention Center.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which owns and operates the convention center, has wanted to upgrade the facility for years, but the recession halted any construction plans.

As the economy came back to life and more tourists began visiting Las Vegas again, LVCVA officials argued it was time to resurrect the convention center plans. The tourism authority already has purchased and demolished the Riviera, making room for an outdoor exhibit space.

The second phase of the plan involves adding a 1.4 million-square-foot convention hall, featuring exhibit and meeting space. The third and final phase would focus on renovating and modernizing the existing convention center.

The 0.5-percent hike in the county room tax would fund the second and third phases of the project, which, combined, are expected to cost $1.4 billion.

The infrastructure committee’s recommendation also implements a cap on the total LVCVA collection allowance that local entities can receive at $25 million. Any funds beyond that amount would go toward funding the convention center’s expansion and renovation project.

A board of construction industry professionals would oversee the convention center project and expenditures, per the recommendation.

Metro Police

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo asked the committee earlier this summer to consider making public-safety funding a priority.

His reasoning: Mass-casualty events in places such as Paris and Orlando have further heightened the need to bolster security on the Las Vegas Strip.

Metro Police patrols everything within the city limits of Las Vegas and in unincorporated areas of the county. The department has about 1.8 officers per 1,000 residents, which is below the preferred national ratio of 2.2 officers per 1,000 residents. Metro’s officer-to-resident ratio also does not include the more than 42 million visitors who come here each year.

Committee members didn’t necessarily disagree about boosting the number of police officers. The question was how to do it in a way that would ensure more officers in the tourist-heavy corridors.

Based on the final report draft, it appears the committee has settled on two recommendations to achieve that goal.

It recommends the state Legislature increase Clark County’s sales tax rate by 0.1 percent. Two tiers of revenue would be generated from that increase, with the first dedicated to increasing the number of officers on the Strip and downtown. The remaining revenue would be distributed to local police agencies, based on population.

The group also recommends removing the 2025 sunset provision from the Clark County Sales and Use Tax of 2005, also known as the More Cops sales tax. The elimination of the sunset provision would make the 0.3-percent tax permanent.

McCarran International Airport

McCarran International Airport relies on a single source of aviation fuel — a 248-mile pipeline that runs along Interstate 15 from Colton, Calif., to Las Vegas.

Short-term disruptions over the years have resulted in emergency measures such as reducing fuel exports to outlying areas and using trucks to deliver fuel to the valley.

Airport officials say any long-term disruptions to the fuel line would hamper operations at the busy Las Vegas airport.

The infrastructure committee recommends the Legislature authorize a study of available and alternative aviation fuel resources for Southern Nevada’s aviation industry. Members hope a study would be approved during the upcoming legislative session and conducted between 2017 and 2019, with the governor receiving a report prior to the 2019 legislative session.

The 11-member infrastructure committee has until the end of the month to finalize its recommendations to the governor.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy