(LAS VEGAS, KXNT)–Clark County commissioners have turned down a proposal to raise the county sales tax to fund the Metro Police Department.
Two competing tax hikes were considered. One favored by Sheriff Doug Gillespie would have raised the tax from 8.1% to 8.25%. Another would have raised the tax half of that amount with other funds for police coming from Metro’s reserves. The tax proposals needed 5 of 7 commission votes to pass. One received 3 votes, the other 4.
Gillespie said his department is facing a $30 million budget shortfall. The state legislature this year cleared the way for the county to implement the other half of a previously-passed sales tax authorization. After the vote Tuesday, a visibly angered Gillespie said the sales tax proposal had been the product of compromise and action, but the Commission votes, he said, amounted to ‘inaction.’
Opposition to the tax grew in recent weeks on a number of fronts, including complaints the tax should not be implemented as police officers were given pay raises. Other questions arose when it was disclosed Metro provided a helicopter ride over the city for a rock n roller who proposed marriage to his girlfriend.
And additional opponents gathered after mass resignations from a civilian panel that oversees police-involved fatal shootings.
An original sales tax proposal was shelved by Commissioners a month ago amid some of those concerns and questions about the need to raise taxes during the slow economic recovery. Commissioner Susan Brager at the time suggested an alternative, raising the sales tax by just half of the proposed amount–0.075 percent–and using reserve funds for the remainder of police funding. Neither proposal passed at Tuesday’s meeting; passage required 5 of the 7 Commission votes. One proposal received 3 ‘yes’ votes, the other received 4.
Metro’s annual budget totals nearly a half billion dollars.