Letters to the editor for Friday, Jan. 19, 2018
Last Thursday, Commissioner Chairman Steve Thaler neglected to mention in his report to the Douglas County Republican Central Committee that the Board of Commissioners has directed staff to draft a ballot question for November to raise sales taxes in Douglas County by .25 percent. This new tax would be used to pay $31,650,000 for improvements to the law enforcement building. Chairman Thaler’s omission is significant because it indicates his hesitancy to personally champion this tax. However, at the BOCC meeting, as a commissioner, he characterized the new tax as a necessity. It appears in this election year Chairman Thaler does not want to be tied to a tax increase.
I suggest that a $31.65 million addition for one new courtroom, additional office space and a 4-story parking garage at the present Buckeye location is utterly extravagant when commissioners are not repairing local county roads and are reassuring us, excluding Commissioner Dave Nelson, that the 7 and 5 year employee contracts for guaranteed raises for full time County employees will not result in increased taxes. The taxpayers should be further outraged because it was only two months ago, after approving the seven- and five-year contracts mentioned above, the commissioners, excluding Commissioners Nelson and Walsh, further approved increasing employee compensation an additional $275,000 to shoulder the entire increased cost in health insurance premiums for full time employees and their dependents.
Last year, for the first time, the County’s CIP Budget Presentation FY 16-17 included the $31.65 million Law Enforcement Building expansion, but there was no identified funding for it. This proposed tax is a last-minute bombshell on the taxpayers.
Finally, we taxpayers are still waiting to hear what happened to the estimated $1 million that some county employees stole from the taxpayers for tires. No one is minding the store for us, and no one is being held accountable.
Thaler’s silence speaks volumes to the vigilant Douglas County taxpayer.
Commission in bed with casinos
Nevada redevelopment area rules authorize the Board of County Commissioners to allow blighted areas to keep the increase in property tax revenues generated within their borders for the specific purpose of addressing blight.
Because an RDA diverts money from the county’s general fund, schools, fire departments, infrastructure projects, and other county services get shortchanged, which is why Nevada NRS 279.388 narrowly defines blight for RDA creation as “… an area which is characterized by at least four [of eleven specified] factors” such as unfit or unsafe building structures or economic dislocation, deterioration or disuse. Ignoring the law, four of our Commissioners have decided the park golf course and resort and the multi-million dollar new housing development going in near the Lakeside Casino qualifies as “blight.”
The BOCC that preceded the current one fell for the gaming industry’s Connectivity scheme, which would have forced county taxpayers to build a pedestrian mall, a gondola, and other amenities that would have made the Lake into a “family-friendly destination.” Now the biggest industry in Douglas County that’s exempt from the onerous Nevada Commerce Tax is back with another scheme.
The current BOCC — except Commissioner Dave Nelson — voted to increase the Temporary Occupancy Tax to fund a feasibility study for the creation of a lakeside event center. They propose to steer RDA money to help build the enclosed 6,000-seat year-around entertainment venue, buying the casino’s claim that increased tourism profits will increase county tax revenue. Research shows that the Reno event center hasn’t paid off as planned, which should be a lesson for Douglas County.
The BOCC, minus Nelson, has hooked up with an industry that specializes in separating suckers from their money. Unfortunately the hicks sitting down at the table will be betting with Douglas County’s school and firefighting funding.
Space doesn’t permit listing all the other problems, but aside from the illegitimate interpretation of what an RDA is supposed to be, you gravel pit warriors know that there’s not much excess capacity in the system for accommodating Lake sewage being pumped down to the valley. So far there is no plan to handle the considerable additional influx from a venue with audiences measured in the thousands.
We’ve got an election coming up that will put the casino’s special friends on the BOCC in the minority, but not before the current bunch puts a permanent crimp in funding for critical county services. Let your commissioners know how you feel about this and thank Commissioner Dave Nelson for standing with the people.