1/4-cent sales tax hike goes before Legislature; commission to testify | RecordCourier.com

1/4-cent sales tax hike goes before Legislature; commission to testify

by Sheila Gardner

Douglas County commissioners will take a field trip to Carson City Thursday to testify on behalf of the voter-approved quarter-cent sales tax.

“It’s looking good,” said County Manager Dan Holler. “We’re pleased it’s out still fairly early in the legislative session. We don’t anticipate any problems on any side.”

The commissioners will begin their meeting Thursday at 9 a.m., then adjourn for lunch at noon. The board plans to reconvene at 1:30 p.m. in Room 3142 of the Legislative Building in Carson City. Board members may testify before the Assembly Taxation Committee on Assembly Bill 174, which authorizes the county to raise the sales tax rate a quarter of a cent from 6.5 cents to 6.75 cents.

“We’ll provide a fact sheet in support of the bill,” Holler said. “The board hasn’t decided who will testify. They’ll talk about it at their meeting Thursday morning.”

Revenue from the sales tax increase will fund the acquisition, development, operation and maintenance of the facilities and services for senior services, libraries and the airport as well as funding the operation and maintenance of county parks and recreation. Commissioners hope the bill will be passed early so the county can begin collecting the tax increase in July.

In September 1998, 62 percent of Douglas County voters approved placing the tax hike request before the Legislature which has final say whether the increase is collected.

“A voter-approved measure generally goes through,” Holler said. “It doesn’t raise any issues, so we’re anticipating it will run smoothly. No opposition to the measure has come out, and we don’t anticipate any.”

The sales tax hike is in response to the 1997 legislative change in the allocation of the county’s transient occupancy tax. The Legislature approved Assembly Bill 616 changing the allocation of the TOT collected in Tahoe Township from 28.5 percent of the revenue committed to tourism promotion to 65 percent. The shift in allocation takes place over the next nine years. Historically, the money went to county parks and recreation, senior services, libraries and the airport.

n Generates $1.1 million. The county estimates at least 40 percent of the tax will be paid by visitors. It is estimated to generate $1.1 million to offset the shift of revenue from county programs to the promotion of tourism.

“The residents of Douglas County spent over four months researching alternatives to replace the lost revenue resulting from the passage of AB 616,” Holler wrote in a memo to Assemblyman David Goldwater, chair, and members of the taxation committee.

“Other options considered included a utility operator’s fee; business taxes; property tax increases; reductions in services; and additional fee increases. The Citizen’s Committee, along with the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, agreed that a quarter cent sales tax increase would be the fairest and best way to replace the lost revenue,” Holler said.

The tax hike will cost a family of four $3.04 a month, according to the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

“The voters of Douglas County overwhelmingly demonstrated that our parks, recreation, library, senior center and airport operations are essential to maintaining a happier, healthier, more educated community, work force and family. These services maintain property values, and lower crime rates,” Holler wrote in his summary.

“These services are a part of a lifestyle enjoyed in Douglas County which assists in the attraction of new businesses and new jobs, resulting in expanded retail and commercial opportunities, enhanced tourism, and the overall economic growth of our community,” he said.

n Lengthy meeting. Following commissioners’ appearance at the Legislature, they will return to Minden for the rest of their meeting which is expected to be lengthy. The board has a 59-item agenda, including a 45-minute update on the master plan; discussion of projects submitted for Community Development Block Grants and master plan amendments.

The board meets in the courtroom of the Douglas County Administration Building, 1616 Eighth St., Minden.