Sales tax hike goes on the ballot |

Sales tax hike goes on the ballot

Editorial Staff

Life under Assembly Bill 616 continues to unfold.

As a result of the room tax reshuffling, Douglas County citizens are looking for ways to replace the funds formerly spent on such non-tourism items as parks and recreation, senior services, libraries and the Minden-Tahoe Airport.

Those agencies, once funded through room taxes, must now look to other sources of revenue thanks to the passage of AB616, or face big changes in how they operate.

After months of debate, the county commissioners decided Thursday to ask voters what they want. District Attorney Scott Doyle was asked to prepare ballot language for a quarter-cent sales tax increase for either the primary election in September or November’s general election.

A quick review of Douglas County history indicates that the last several money issues have been soundly rejected by voters in general elections. The successful financial questions have passed either in special or primary elections.

This year, according to Clerk-Treasurer Barbara Reed, the November ballot already is crowded with nine state issues. By law, the state questions are listed before the county issues on the ballot.

Experience has taught us that bewildered voters can often be fairly negative by the time they reach the end of their ballots.

For the ballot issue to pass, proponents have a challenging sales job ahead. So far, support has come from the Business Council of Douglas County and the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, some of the same folks who came out against raising taxes in the last election.

Voters soundly rejected a quarter-cent increase in the sales tax in 1996 to fund the acquisition of parks, trails and open space and pay for development, operation and maintenance.

This year, while the amount is the same, the stakes much different. Douglas County residents are smart people who care about their community. They will respond most favorably to a clear campaign of the facts and reject attempts by all sides to fractionalize or frighten voters.