Support voiced for Lake Tahoe Township lodging tax increase
Douglas County commissioners heard on Thursday, Feb. 16, the first reading of a potential 1-percent increase in transient lodging taxes for Lake Tahoe Township lodging businesses.
About 400 businesses would be impacted by the tax, said Deputy District Attorney Zach Wadle.
The increase, which would raise the license tax rate from 3 to 4 percent, was proposed by the Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority. Currently, Douglas County receives 1 percent of funds raised from taxes to promote economic vitality efforts and for repairs and improvements to county parks and recreation facilities. The Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority receive 2 percent to support and grow tourism.
The tax increase could bring in more than $620,000, based on 2015-16 revenues.
The money would be used to study and plan for a possible all-season events and performance center in the casino corridor area near Lake Parkway.
If constructed, the venue could bring in more than $30 million per year, Wadle said.
Commissioner Dave Nelson said he felt the project needed a sunset clause so that after money was raised to study and plan for the events center, the tax would cease to exist.
Commissioner Larry Walsh said he supported the tax continuing on after plans are completed.
“I totally support this project,” he said. “I think this 1 percent tax should go on … to support other activities of TDVA.”
About a half-dozen people spoke in favor of the tax.
If adopted, the tax increase would go into effect May 1.
In other business, commissioners, on a 4-1 vote, approved a 5.5 percent salary increases for Douglas County Sheriff’s officers.
Nelson cast the dissenting vote. Commissioners approved two separate labor agreements — one with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Protective Association and another with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Protective Association Sergeant’s Bargaining Unit. Both agreements include 5.5 percent increases starting on each employee’s anniversary. The increases are effective in Fiscal Year 16-17.
The agreement with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Protective Association also includes:
Changes to shift-differential premiums
Changes to overtime premium calculations
An increase in annual leave accrual rates to match the levels provided to non-represented county employees
The creation of a bank to fund time spent on association business in exchange for reducing some annual leave accrual rates
The increases will cost about $400,000 more than FY15-16.
For employees represented by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Protective Association Sergeant’s Bargaining Unit, the agreement also includes increasing the top of the salary range by 8 percent.
There are 14 sergeants in the department, Undersheriff Paul Howell said.
Currently, their salary range tops out at about $93,000. The increase will bump the top of the range up to just over $100,000.
The increases will cost about $87,000 more than FY15-16.
“It’s not about the money, but let’s admit it — it’s about the money,” Nelson said.
“We have to have more money for infrastructure,” he also said. “That’s where our money needs to go.”
Commissioner Steve Thaler, who said he spent 15 years in law enforcement, strongly disagreed.
“You wonder why we can’t keep people here,” he said. “Who wants to get shot for $20 an hour? Not me.”