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October 21, 2014

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Nevada Territory

Bill allowing arena tax districts introduced in Legislature

Senator protests impromptu committee meeting

Sun Coverage

A bill that would allow special tax districts to finance arenas in Clark and Washoe counties was introduced Monday night in a sudden "behind the bar" meeting of a committee.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford told a gathering of fellow Revenue Committee members that Senate Bill 501 related to competing arenas proposed at UNLV, a proposal by developer Chris Milam at a site behind Mandalay Bay and a proposal in downtown Las Vegas.

The bill would allow a developer to use a wide array of taxes generated on the arena site, including payroll, sales and property taxes, to pay for the arena.

This is the murky way some policy gets made in the final days at the Legislature: No agenda, no formal meeting on the bill. The "fiscal notes" meant to tell lawmakers and taxpayers the potential cost of a bill to the public were not available. Instead, lawmakers gathered to the side of the Senate Chambers - "behind the bar" - as press and lobbyists tried to listen in.

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, and Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, voted against introducing the bill.

"I have no idea what it means," Kieckhefer said. "I've had six different lobbyists tell me it means six different things."

"And now we'll hear what it means," said Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, noting the meeting just introduced the bill.

The competing arena proposals say public financing is necessary to build an arena. Caesars Entertainment has proposed an initiative petition to raise the sales tax on the Strip to finance its arena proposal, which other casino companies, including MGM Resorts International, have opposed.

The bill creates an "Event Facility District Law," which allows increases in taxes on the site to be pledged to build a project.

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  1. If private companies want a arena, let them pay for it.

    This behind the door submitting of bills without telling the public or even those voting on them the cost is nonsense.

    I am also interested in knowing way Officials in Reno are speaking up about bills that only effect Clark County? What is in it for her?

    If they really want to try to get this done, put it to a vote of the Clark County Tax Payers. No more back room deals about this.

  2. I have a question that I have asked several times and even once to County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, which he has failed to even acknowledge that he received the email. Why should the county loose thousands and thousands and maybe even millions of dollars a year letting AMR and Medi-West transport those who need to be taken to the hospital.
    Here the county is talking about cutting more than 30 million dollars out of the county budget, and possibly laying off an additional 400 county employees. Yet the District Attorney's office is refusing to trim their budget anymore. There are cities, both bigger and smaller than Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Clark County, and Henderson put together that transport those that call the fire department for Emergency Medical help. The City of Lincoln, Nebraska terminated its contract a few years ago with a private ambulance firm and the program paid for itself within two years. The program adds an additional Million plus dollars a year to the city budget.
    I know earlier this year my girlfriend's father had to be taken to the hospital and the Clark County Fire Department was on the scene for at least ten minutes before AMR arrived. AMR sent her father a bill for almost a thousand dollars of which his insurance covered 850 dollars and AMR is going after her father for an additional 150 dollars that they say is due, even though he is on Social Security and gets around 800 dollars a month.
    In 2010 the County Fire Department responded to 104,882 medical calls. Now assuming the County Fire Department transported 90,000 of those who called for Emergency Medical Services and they billed the insurance companies for those calls and the insurance companies paid 850 of the almost a thousand dollars that AMR charged my girlfriends father, the county could have added an additional 76.5 million dollars to the budget. And if the county would have billed 500 dollars an addition 45 million dollars could have been added.
    So my question is why is Commissioner Sisolak afraid to answer the email about this, well I have two thoughts on that one he is too busy going after everybody and making county employees look like bumbling idiots or AMR and Medi-West contributed to his campaign and he does not want to lose their contribution's. But what can we expect from a man who sued the County and won 25 million dollars because he wanted to build something too close and too tall to the airport.
    Maybe now the commissioner will answer my question.

  3. Vegaslee: exactly! This is a classic example of "it's not what you know, but who you know," at work! Let those that want to develop a project and reap its rewards pay for it - not taxpayers! Arenas, stadiums, Ferris wheels, casinos or shoe stores! Who cares? Let them succeed or fail on their own merits. NO subsidies - PERIOD!

  4. Dave Butcher,

    Economics is the reason that they use a private company in Clark County.

    They guys working for AMR and Med West make less then 25% of what the country workers make. They also don't get the benefits and the retirement that the country workers get. You would be shocked to find out how little AMR and Med West employees are really paid.

    You see a bill for one run for $1000. Over half those bills never get paid. They also make runs all day long that they end up not being needed on.

    The bottom line is we could never afford to have the fire department making all those runs as what they get paid and what their benefit and retirement package costs the tax payers.