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Commission to pay visit to the Legislature

by Sheila Gardner

Douglas County commissioners will pay the Nevada Legislature a visit Thursday, scheduling meetings with Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen, R-Minden, and Rep. Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville Ranchos.

“Before the Legislature starts, it’s a good idea to get with our legislative contingent and our lobbyist on a personal basis,” said Commissioner Bernie Curtis, who asked that the meeting be scheduled. “Even though they pretty well know what our agenda is, it’s a good idea to renew old friendships, too. We have been at this for two years.”

n Sales tax dollars. Curtis said distribution of tax dollars is uppermost in commissioners’ minds.

Two years ago, with the passage of Assembly Bill 616, the Legislature approved restructuring distribution of room taxes from the county’s airport, library and senior services more toward tourism at Lake Tahoe.

As a result, taxpayers approved a quarter-cent increase in Douglas County’s sales tax, which must be approved by the Legislature. Commissioners aren’t sure when that action might be taken, but have suggested the earlier, the better, so the money can start coming into the county.

“We were blindsided the last time,” Curtis said. “We don’t want that to happen again. We want everything to be as upfront as possible.”

Douglas County Manager Dan Holler said the county has transmitted five bill draft requests to the Legislative Counsel Bureau for consideration by the Legislature.

Besides the sales tax increase, they include a bill to allow Douglas County greater flexibility in the development of neighborhood parks and park facilities; a measure permitting all 17 counties to use higher statutory thresholds to advertise competitive bids; a bill to allow Tahoe Douglas Transportation District to spend money for the construction of public transit system facilities; and legislation to credit municipal water systems for the water right when a domestic well is taken out of service and replaced by municipal water service.

n Building tour. Commissioners will also tour the legislative building to familiarize Douglas County representatives with hearing rooms and legislative offices.

“It’s an informational meeting,” Holler said. “It’s a chance for us to say to our legislators, ‘Here are our five bill drafts we have put in. What’s the process? Where can we start? What kind of information can we give you?'”

As far as the sales tax hike, Holler said the county’s greatest concern is “When do we see it?”

The Legislature convenes Feb. 1 with adjournment scheduled 120 days later.

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