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October 2, 2014

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Countywide sales tax hike mulled for UNLV stadium

For UNLV’s proposed multipurpose stadium to be built, it could come at a cost to taxpayers in Clark County.

Tax bumps were presented today as the most logical revenue source to fund the multimillion-dollar project during the university’s Campus Improvement Advisory Board meeting. James Dean Leavitt, regent and stadium board member, supported a slight increase in the Clark County sales tax and room tax on the Strip, according to an email he sent to chairman and UNLV acting President Don Snyder and provided at the meeting.

Leavitt said the tax should be spread between both areas because they are “the primary beneficiaries of this project.”

Snyder suggested that a countywide sales tax would be preferable because it would spread the cost, minimizing the impact on residents.

“A sales tax countywide emerges in my mind as the most viable alternative for a public funding vehicle,” Snyder said at the meeting.

UNLV is considering three on-campus stadium models. Those include a 40,000-seat open-air stadium, a 50,000-seat open-air stadium and a 60,000-seat domed stadium. The cost to build them range from $523 million for the smallest to $833 million for the domed stadium.

The proposed sales tax would increase the current tax from 8.1 percent to up to 8.37 percent depending on the type of bond UNLV would receive and the size of the stadium. The increase would provide $83 million in potential revenue to pay for the building.

A proposed sales tax on the Strip only was also considered, which would bring in about $79 million in potential revenue.

However, no tax increase can be implemented without a vote by the Legislature.

Not all board members were in support of a tax hike, including County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, who cited the increased impact it would have on those living on a fixed income. Other board members discussed a desire to see what the impact would look like on consumers in Clark County, which would be presented at the next meeting on Aug. 28.

Meanwhile, UNLV is still working to determine a location for the stadium after the Federal Aviation Administration determined the university’s first proposed site — northeast of Swenson Street and Harmon Avenue — was not feasible because it interfered with air traffic.

Southwest Airlines Capt. Perry Clausen, who manages the air traffic systems for the airline, said UNLV’s proposed alternative site next to the Thomas & Mack Center would not interfere with air traffic. However, he said there could be a noise issue for the open-air stadium from nearby airplanes taking off.

The board must also decide on the type of stadium it wants to build. Board member and Regent Cedric Crear advocated for a domed stadium, citing larger economic benefits due to its versatility to hold multiple events as a larger venue.

“It seems as though the cost would be more than worthy with the revenue (projections) we have here,” Crear said.

However, Snyder said the board must also consider the impact on the public and suggested the smaller, 40,000-seat open-air stadium.

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