Senior center tax to stay on ballot

Commissioners voted 4-1 to retain a sales tax initiative to fund a senior and community center in Douglas County on the upcoming ballot, despite a request by the Senior Services Advisory Council to remove it.

Members of the Senior Advisory Council feared the initiative couldn't compete with the .5 percent sales tax question for the criminal justice system in Douglas County, but commissioners disagreed.

"The senior center question is an absolute, but the sheriff's tax initiative is strictly advisory," said County Commissioner Doug Johnson. "Even if the (sheriff's advisory) question passes, it has a long road to get through the Legislature.

"I don't think I want to speak for 50,000 people by making the decision to take the (senior advisory) question off," he said.

The commission vote was 4-1 in favor of keeping the initiative on the ballot with wording changes to include a Carson Valley community center with senior center facilities.

The Senior Advisory Council fully supports the sheriff's question, said Chairman Bob Cook.

"The Council thought it would be better to step aside and support the sheriff's advisory question, but the commission said we weren't in competition with them," he said. "I personally feel the community needs to approve both initiatives. The community is growing and the Sheriff's department isn't. It's time for this community to step up to the plate."

If the quarter-cent tax is approved, roughly 40 to 50 percent of the costs for a senior and community center would be borne by nonresidents. A resident purchasing $10,000 worth of goods in Douglas County annually would only be paying an estimated $30 to $40 a year, Cook said.

Once the new center's needs have been met, funding from the tax initiative would go to other entities, like Parks and Recreation and the preservation of agriculture.

"It's really not much of an increase when considering the advantage for the people of Douglas County," Cook said.

"The CVIC Hall doesn't fit most of the community's needs and this could help so many organizations," he said.

In the coming months, Advisory members will be doing everything to educate the public and get their initiative passed. The project, which has been the subject of other failed ballot initiatives, would get a boost if county officials purchased the property. Two parcels off Buckeye Road are being considered, but assessments on the properties are not completed, Cook said.

Commissioner Kelly Kite cast the one dissenting vote, but not willingly.

"I said I'd go along with the advisory board," he said. "But there is a lot more involved that just approving this for a senior center.

"If agriculture isn't worth protecting for a quarter-cent sales tax when 40 percent of the funds will be collected from nonresidents, then there's nothing else we need to support," he said.

"This needs to be on the ballot."

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


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