County ballot questions concerning taxes come under scrutiny
MINDEN – Deputies may be needed, but even with competitive pay, Douglas County isn’t keeping them.
County Manager Dan Holler said salary isn’t a factor in keeping law enforcement officers. Their pay is close to 100 percent of the market.
“Recruitment is tough, always,” said Holler. “You can give me positions but I can’t fill them.
“Fire service too. I don’t care what you do with salaries, you don’t have people going into those professions. And it’s not only us.”
The initiative concerning raising taxes to support law enforcement was one of November’s general election questions discussed by the Community and Economic Development Committee. All three ballot questions have to do with raising taxes for Douglas County residents.
Advisory question 1 will ask voters to support a .5 percent sales tax increase with the funding to be used for additional facilities and for personnel in the sheriff’s office, fire district and criminal justice system.
The question asks voters to approve a 1 percent increase in the present 6.75 percent sales tax. Even if approved by voters, the initiative requires approval of the Nevada Legislature.
The increase would generate an estimated $5.2 million to be used by law enforcement and criminal justice system. A small portion of the revenue, 7.5 percent or $390,000, is proposed for facilities while the balance of funds would be used for police officers, prosecutors, court personnel, juvenile services and equipment.
Several members of the committee expressed the opinion that funding might be needed for law enforcement but they didn’t like the method of funding.
Question 2 asks voters to approve a quarter-cent sales tax for senior services, libraries, parks and recreation programs and to preserve agriculture.
An estimated $2.6 million per year would be generated by this tax with up to $900,000 going toward a new community center with senior services and with an additional $500,000 used for maintenance and operation of the center, $500,000 for preservation of agriculture, $500,000 to be used to replace declining room tax revenues and $200,000 for operational costs for all of these programs.
“Phase one is for a senior center and phase two is for a community center – how do we communicate this to voters?” said Chamber of Commerce Director Skip Sayre.
Question 3 asks voters to decide if they would want additional property taxes to go toward operation and maintenance of the Genoa Courthouse Museum and the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center in Gardnerville.
If approved, this tax translates to an additional $10.71 per year for the owner of an average-priced home in the Minden/Gardnerville area, which in 2006 is $408,000 with an assessed value of $142,000.
Funds generated would be used to pay the salaries of a museum director, curator, management and bookkeeping services and building maintenance. Funding to collect, preserve and display historical artifacts will continue to be generated through donations, memberships and grants.
“If the volunteers go away, there’s no one to take care of the museum,” said McDermid.
“The chamber has no opposition to this,” said Sayre.
He said the chamber of commerce has helped the museum with finances since it moved into the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center building.
“We’ve reduced the rent and attendance is up 400 percent. It’s a feel-good thing to support this,” said Sayre. “It gets them out of struggling for money.”
In their review of the draft of the economic goals and policies element of the 10-year master plan update, the economic committee discussed the importance of affordable housing for the labor pool, attracting tourism-related business and what the economic development goal should be.
“The chamber of commerce should take an active role and look at the goals on the economic side – recruitment, retention, expansion – what should the focus look like in the future?” said Holler. “The business community has been relatively silent on this.”
Comments are needed for a review of the goals and policies of the master plan update for when the Community and Economic Development Committee meets again at 5 p.m. Sept. 11 in the CVIC Hall Fortnightly Room. They will submit any additional comments to the Douglas County Planning Commission in October.
Call the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce at (775) 782-8144 for more information.
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