Proposals considered to replace room tax |

Proposals considered to replace room tax

Greg Risling

The last of two brainstorming sessions at the lake dealing with projected lost revenues to Douglas County programs produced some streamlined results Tuesday evening.

Kathy Farrell, one of 11 committee members charged with finding solutions to dollars that will be funneled for tourism promotions, fired off a rapid succession of motions to eliminate several funding options. Among those that were thrown aside were business license fees, taxing video game machines and power company charges.

Farrell said the items won’t come back to the committee for consideration and the committee instead will focus more on the remaining options.

“The reason I made the series of motions was because I believed they have been discussed at least to our satisfaction,” she said. “We talked about the pros and cons and made an intelligent decision. My charge is to look at a long-range strategy and not a band-aid approach.”

Salvaged from the meeting were two tax proposals. The committee put a priority on property and sales taxes will give the committee more of a focus. Projected numbers were tossed around at the meeting but committee members said a precise figure probably won’t be found until their presentation to the board next month.

According to Al Walker, who sits on the committee, a property tax rate slightly less than seven cents per $100 of assessed value would solve the shortfall.

It has also been suggested that the use of room tax dollars to secure bonds would free up $11 million to complete several projects such as the Valley Community Center, fairground improvements and a gym at Kahle Park.

But as chairman Nate Leising pointed out, a property tax hike would hit the socioeconomic fringes.

“There are a lot of low-income residents who would get hit indirectly because of raised rentals,” he said. “The property tax would also hit people who have pretty nice homes as well.”

Sales tax has become a sought-after source of revenue to many local jurisdictions. A quarter-cent hike is a contingency that rises and falls with business trends. While the economy may remain stagnant in the Carson Valley, tourist dollars predominately affect sales tax figures.

T.C. Estes said he thinks the sales tax alternative is the best proposition for Douglas County.

“I would support it,” he said. “I think people would accept it more than the other things talked about at these meetings.”

Knowing well that tending to capital improvements will never subside, the two alternatives may gain some support from different members of the community.

The blue ribbon panel is exploring the viability of alternative revenue sources to offset recently approved AB616. Beginning in 1999, the bill will shift a greater portion of room tax revenues to the county’s tourism promotions.

Over a 10-year period, $1.78 million that formerly funded recreation and senior service programs will be used for the marketing plan.

After the committee wraps up its final two meetings, it will take its recommendations to the Board of Commissioners. The five-member elected body will consider the recommendations in deciding how to recoup the revenue loss.

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