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April 21, 2014

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County Government:

Consultant to weigh in on UMC governance

Taxes, wireless internet access also on commission’s agenda

Clark County commissioners will get an outside opinion on an issue that has divided the board for months — how best to run University Medical Center — when they meet Wednesday as the hospital board of trustees. Commissioners also will have their regularly scheduled board meeting Tuesday at 9: 15 a.m. at the Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway, where they’re scheduled to discuss new taxes and expanding the county’s wireless internet presence.

Expert opinion

How to govern UMC and whether to turn it over to an outside board of overseers has bedeviled county commissions for over a decade and has served as the root of a contentious split between current board members.

The financially challenged hospital is overseen by the county commissioners, acting as the UMC board of trustees, but a group of commissioners, led by chairman Steve Sisolak, have pushed to turn that authority over to a board of industry experts who would have more experience and time to help UMC.

The move has been fiercely opposed by a faction including UMC board Chairman Lawrence Weekly, who argue the hospital’s problems won’t go away until its core financial issues are addressed.

On Wednesday at 1 p.m., commissioners will get an outside opinion on the matter from consultant Larry Gage, who founded and led the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems for 30 years.

Gage’s report will touch on how other public hospitals are governed and how those models might fit at UMC.

Tax season rolls on

Commissioners discussed a potential sales tax hike to pay for more Metro Police officers at their last meeting, and on Tuesday, the discussion will turn to the fuel tax.

The proposal, which was authorized by the Legislature during its session, would peg the gas tax to inflation, meaning an increase of about 3 cents per gallon, or an extra $16 a year.

The increased revenue, which could top $20 million annually, would be added to the budget for road repair and construction.

Commissioners will discuss the proposal Tuesday, but it can’t be passed until after a public hearing is held, likely in August.

In a separate item, commissioners will introduce an ordinance authorizing the sales tax hike to pay for Metro Police officers. The ordinance can’t be passed until after the public hearing at the commission’s first meeting in August.

County hotspots

Clark County provides wireless internet access at 56 of its buildings, and with the exception of fire stations, all of the hotspots are open to the public.

On Tuesday, commissioners will get a report on how many buildings still don’t have wireless internet and what it will cost to expand the service.

The cost to install wireless internet varies greatly depending on a building’s layout, but generally it costs $5,000 to install a single data point, which provides access across 2,000 square feet, according to county estimates.

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