Commissioners consider law enforcement sales tax initiative

Commissioners could approve an advisory question to increase sales tax .5 percent to fund the Douglas County criminal justice system, a move that would mean more police on the force and a better quality of life for Douglas County residents, according to Sheriff Ron Pierini.

"We protect $3 billion worth of assets in Douglas County," he said. "We must have enough police officers."

Since 1990, Douglas County's population has increased by 81 percent. In 1995 the Sheriff's Office received 38,000 calls for service and by 2005, that number had increased to 93,000, Pierini said.

He praised county commissioners for stepping up to the plate and providing extra funding for more deputies and other staff, but arrests are now totalling 2,000 annually and commissioners have reached an impasse.

"There aren't enough resources in the county's general fund and we need to increase our manpower allocation," Pierini said.

County officials have asked the sheriff's office to look at ways to generate more money for these services and this effort, which would be patterned after a similar one in Clark County last year, is the only way to generate a fairly stead source of funding for law enforcement, he said.

The initiative would cost each resident in Douglas County about $18 a year, or about 50 cents for every $100 in retail sales. It would mean an estimated $5 million in five years for the criminal justice system, enough to cover the needs of the sheriff's department and provide funding for related services, like the courts, juvenile probation and prosecutors, Pierini said.

About 40 percent of the increase would be generated by non-residents, a group responsible for a sizeable percentage of the service calls received, Pierini said.

The sheriff's office currently has an $11 million budget and Pierini expects the new source of funding to help other departments by slowing the drain on their financial resources. If approved by commissioners, the initiative will be placed on November's ballot. If voters approve the initiative, a bill draft request will be forwarded to the Legislature, who could approve the tax next year.

In other business:

n Commissioners will discuss an agreement for a roundabout with Nevada Department of Transportation at the intersection of State Route 88 and County Road in Minden.

The Department needs county approval to work outside the boundaries of the State's right-of-way.

n Commissioners could change the county code, allowing six rather than three dogs on one acre. The measure would provide for those involved in the licensing of dog fancier or breeder kennels, dog rescue kennels and pet grooming services.

The issue arose after a neighbor complained about herd dog rescuer Kathy Givens, charging she had too many dogs on her Johnson Lane property.

• Commissioners will hear an evaluation of water demands for Nevada's counties over the next 30 years.

Ed James of the Carson Water Subconservancy District will present a Regional Water Plan which identifies a number of water issues, including upstream versus downstream water demands.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.


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