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November 23, 2014

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Commission to consider third More Cops tax proposal

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Steve Marcus

Sheriff Doug Gillespie speaks on the Metro Police budget during a county commission meeting at the Clark County Government Center Tuesday, April 16, 2013.

In its first meeting of the new year, the Clark County Commission returns to a discussion of a stalled sales tax proposal that made headlines throughout 2013. The commission will introduce a new version of the More Cops sales tax, as well as an ordinance regulating reflexology clinics, when it meets at 9:05 a.m. Tuesday at the Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway.

More Cops

In an attempt to break the deadlock among commissioners, Sheriff Doug Gillespie unveiled a third revision of the More Cops sales tax in December.

The new data-driven plan is based on an analysis of Metro Police’s current budget and staffing levels, projecting those numbers out until 2020.

Gillespie has argued that a .15 percent increase in the sales tax is needed to prevent further cuts in staffing, as the department faces a $30 million deficit in its next budget cycle.

Commissioners have been split on how much to raise the sales tax, or whether to raise it at all, preventing the passage of several proposals over the past six months.

Gillespie’s new plan would draw down Metro’s $136 million reserve to cover the budget deficit and use the new tax revenue to hire 101 officers. As the reserve is depleted, the sales tax would be phased in starting with a .075 percent increase when the reserve hits $100 million, likely in October. Another .075 percent increase would be implemented when the reserve drops below $75 million, which is projected in October 2015.

It’s unclear whether this hybrid plan that draws down the reserve while increasing the sales tax will be enough to swing county commissioners in its favor.

Commissioners will introduce the ordinance Tuesday, with a public hearing and potential vote likely scheduled for their Jan. 21 meeting.

Reflexology regulations

A few troublemakers could lead to stricter regulations for roughly 700 reflexology clinics operating across the valley under a new ordinance being proposed by the county.

Most clinics, which offer therapy through applying physical pressure to the feet, hands or ears to achieve a range of purported health benefits, operate without incident, but county commissioners say they still hear regular complaints from constituents, often about a few specific reflexologists.

Commissioners are concerned that reflexology clinics offer full-body massage and other services for which they aren't licensed, and that some are misleading customers about the price of services.

The ordinance adds a new chapter outlining specific regulations for reflexology clinics, which are now licensed as drugless practitioners in Clark County.

The new regulations would be more in line with rules that apply to massage parlors, including background checks, required certifications for staff and clearly listed prices.

Commissioners will introduce the ordinance Tuesday, with a public hearing and possible vote likely at their Jan. 21 meeting.

County finds $45 million extra in budget

A better-than-expected financial year has left the county with an extra $45 million to spend in its general fund.

The excess, which represents a fraction of the county’s overall $1.2 billion budget, was accrued through one-time land sales, a better-than-expected improvement in revenue and cost-saving measures in fiscal year 2013, which ended June 30 of last year.

The extra funds are a positive sign for the county, which has run large budget deficits in recent years due to the recession, including a $41 million deficit that was covered by reserves in the current fiscal year.

Officials are still trying to figure out how the $45 million will be spent, but at least part will go toward capital projects, which have been underfunded for the past several years due to the budget situation.

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