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Sales tax hike to go into effect July 1

by Sheila Gardner

Douglas County is just one step away from implementation of a quarter-cent sales tax increase, effective July 1, after Gov. Kenny Guinn signed the measure and commissioners passed the first reading Thursday of an ordinance to make the voter-approved hike law.

“As we pass this, let’s not forget all the help from our citizens, Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen and Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick,” said Commissioner Kelly Kite. “This is a product of our citizens voting for this.”

The increase will raise the sales tax in Douglas County from 6.50 cents to 6.75 cents per $1. The Nevada Legislature passed Assembly Bill 174 and Guinn signed the measure this week.

“This day and age, there are no heroes anymore,” said Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen, “but this is a good example of what a team can do.”

Commissioner Bernie Curtis echoed his colleagues’ sentiments.

“This was a difficult process at times, very confrontational,” Curtis said. “We worked together.”

Voters approved the sales tax increase in 1998 following the passage of Assembly Bill 616 that will divert $1.7 million annually in room tax revenue from county senior services, the airport and the library to the promotion of tourism.

Had the sales tax initiative failed, officials worried that services provided by those agencies would be severely curtailed.

“We are very pleased,” said Scott Morgan, director of community services which oversees parks and recreation and senior services. “Passage of this tax increase is a real compliment to the board of commissioners regarding their leadership on this issue, as well as the community involvement it took to get this passed.

“It means continued effort on the part of our department to become more efficient. It’s important for people to realize this is not extra money, it’s replacement money and doesn’t fully replace what we’re losing. We’ll continue to do the best we can with the resources we have.”

The tax is expected to cost a family of four an extra $3.50 per month.

A second reading on the tax hike is scheduled next week at the commissioners’ meeting in Stateline. Normally, the process would take an extra month, but officials want the hike on the books by July 1.