‘Fiscal’ articles

Metro pushes for even more ‘More Cops’ taxes

Enlists powerful tourism committee in bid for higher, longer taxation

LAS VEGAS — To get Clark County voters to pass the 2004 “More Cops” sales-tax ballot measure, Metro’s then-sheriff and other local-government officials repeatedly and very publicly promised the funds would only be used to put more police on the street.

Nevada lawmakers early the next year made the same pledge and even wrote it into state law.

Ten years later, however, lawmakers and Metro both quietly, but explicitly, broke that promise.

The pledge was removed from state law and Metro’s Fiscal Affairs Committee was authorized to spend More Cops dollars, not for new hires but to meet other rising costs — such as record and rapidly escalating police retirement benefits.

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What happened to Metro's
‘More Cops’ promises?

Extra tax revenues channeled into bank, record-level pensions

In 2004, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department commenced an aggressive campaign to promote what was called the “More Cops” Sales Tax Initiative.

Citing standard law enforcement metrics as evidence the agency was understaffed, Metro P.D. marketed the initiative as the most effective way to secure the hiring of more uniformed police officers to serve the Las Vegas basin.

Specifically, Metro noted that its officer-to-population ratio — measured by officers per 1,000 people served — was lagging relative to the national average.

Metro’s arguments throughout 2004 convinced Clark County to vote “yes,” by a narrow margin, on an advisory ballot question, which asked the following:

Do you support an increase in the sales and use tax in Clark County of up to 1/2 of 1% for the purpose of hiring and equipping more police officers to protect the citizens of Clark County?

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Even fallback assurances from lobbyist
for NMTC ‘jobs’ program don’t check out

Tax-credit scheme passed by Nevada lawmakers has history of soaking taxpayers

Ryan Brennan of Advantage Capital Partners made the news in 2013 for citing nonexistent Florida and Missouri state audits to convince Nevada legislators to pass a bill that meant millions for his employer.

Auditors in the two states he cited — shown videotapes of Brennan’s testimony — were very clear that no such audits existed or had ever been done.

Confronted with that information by Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Ed Vogel, both Brennan and State Sen. Michael Roberson, sponsor of the bill in question, attempted to argue that no qualitative difference exists between the findings of genuine state audits and the views of consultants in the pay of firms lobbying hard for passage of “New Markets Tax Credit” or NMTC laws.

According to Vogel’s article, Roberson contended that “in the broad sense a state audit can be any type of an evaluation process performed in a state.”

Brennan, for his part, continued to maintain that the State of Nevada could increase tax revenue by foregoing insurance-premium tax revenue through tax credits allocated to firms like his.

The lobbyist, wrote Vogel, “released reports from Missouri and Florida that said revenue generated by the tax credits programs far exceeded the cost of the credits.”

Once again, however, the “released reports from Missouri” can neither be found nor their existence verified. (Regarding the Florida report, see below.)

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State gives GOED's favored few
'vouchers' redeemable for cash

'Transferable tax-credit' vouchers shift tax burden to everyone else

Barely 15 months removed from triumphantly announcing that $1.3 billion in tax breaks over 20 years had lured Tesla to build its massive battery factory in the Reno area, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval last December followed up by securing a commitment from upstart electric car company Faraday Future to locate its manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas in return for $215 million in tax relief over the next decade.

With the deals came promises that a state still struggling to shake the residue of economic malaise had turned the corner toward rejuvenation. “It will light up everyone in the region,” Steve Hill, Gov. Sandoval’s point man on economic development, told the Reno Gazette-Journal in regard to Tesla. “Property values will go up. The prosperity of the region will be materially changed.”

Likewise, following the Faraday announcement, the governor predicted in the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the arrangement “is going to change the trajectory and economy in Southern Nevada and the state.”

For Nevada taxpayers and business owners living in the here and now, however, the excitement of handing out a total of $1.5 billion in tax incentives to Tesla, owned by a Silicon Valley billionaire, and Faraday, the brainchild of a Chinese billionaire, might be somewhat tempered by a sobering reality.

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Does transferable tax credit law
shift power to financial elites?

Puts control of millions of state dollars in GOED director's hands

At an April 9 legislative committee hearing last year, Steve Hill explained why passage of Senate Bill 507 — establishing a system of transferable tax credits to spur investment and job growth — was in Nevada’s best interest.

“The legislation will align the program costs with the timing of the expense with the companies we are recruiting to Nevada …” said Mr. Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “The transferable tax credit program does not require up-front funding, and the transferable tax credit expense can be accounted for in the years the expense is incurred.”

In addition, thanks to a Nevada constitutional provision against state subsidies to private businesses, the grants and loans Mr. Hill’s office bestowed upon various companies had previously been directed through state and county governments.

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Medicaid patients to be the
surprise victims of margin tax

Nursing-home owner explains how passage
of tax would hurt Nevada’s neediest residents

LAS VEGAS — If the margin tax passes, it will claim a group of unlikely victims: Medicaid patients.

That’s according to the owner of a large, Southern Nevada nursing home who says, if voters approve the new tax November 4, he will be forced to stop accepting new Medicaid patients, leaving them with fewer health care options, extending their treatment wait times and worsening their outcomes.

And he expects other health care providers to do the same.

“In order to protect my employees and keep my business open, I’m going to have to cut the number of unprofitable Medicaid patients I accept,” said the nursing-home owner, who asked not to be identified so as to not send his employees and patients into a panic.

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Mom-and-pop business worries
about indirect impacts of margin tax

Small business owner sees costs increasing if margin tax passes,
even through his business doesn’t meet $1 million threshold

LAS VEGAS — Randy and Kathalynn Thwing may have to pick up their lives and move out of the state they’ve called home since the ‘80s if voters approve the margin tax this November, even though their long-time business wouldn’t be directly subjected to the tax.

The pair owns and operates New Standard Manufacturing, a business that’s been building and selling padlocks in Nevada for over 25 years. Even though they’re one of the small, mom-and-pop businesses supporters of the tax claim will be unaffected, Randy says his business and other companies like them will be hit hard.

 “It’s the simplest economics,” Randy said, recognizing that those he does business with will pass on the tax to him, thereby upping his costs of operating in the Silver State. “My landlord is the biggest example. They’re a multi-million-dollar company. They’re going to raise my rent 2 percent.”

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La Metropolitana de Las Vegas concede a la Unión Culinaria más de $195,000 en gastos policiales a lo largo de 9 meses

Simultáneamente, pide un aumento de impuestos para los residentes del Condado Clark

LAS VEGAS — A lo largo del último año, el Departamento de la Policía Metropolitana de Las Vegas ha presionado intensamente a oficiales públicos para que aumenten el impuesto a las ventas y — asegurando estar en una situación de pobreza — ha incluso reducido sus actividades de seguridad pública.

Al mismo tiempo, sin embargo, el departamento estuvo otorgando a la Unión de Trabajadores Culinarios Local 226 más de $195,000 gratis en servicios policiales.

Eso es suficiente para cubrir el costo de compensación para dos oficiales que el departamento dice necesitar. O podría financiar la respuesta policíaca a muchos de los accidentes de tráfico que la Metropolitana recientemente comenzó a ignorar.

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LV Metro comps Culinary Union over
$195,000 in police costs in 9 months

Simultaneously pushes a tax increase on Clark County residents

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas Metro for the last year has loudly lobbied public officials for a sales tax increase and — claiming poverty — has even reduced its public law-enforcement activity.

All the while, however, the department was also gifting Culinary Union Local 226 with over $195,000 worth of free police services.

That’s enough to cover total compensation for two officers that the department says it needs. Or it could fund police response to many of the traffic accidents Metro recently began ignoring.

From June 14, 2013, to March 8, 2014, Metro’s staffing of the Culinary Union’s regular protests outside the Cosmopolitan cost taxpayers $204,549.60, police records show.

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Margin tax could mean the death of
long-time Las Vegas construction firm

Owner sees tax forcing her to shut down, lay off 70 employees

LAS VEGAS — After 16 years, a Las Vegas-based construction company that weathered the Great Recession could be forced to close and layoff its roughly 70 hard-working employees.

Only recently, Renee Newman and her husband had reason to hope that their construction company — which Newman asked not be named publicly for fear of retaliation — could break even and maybe even turn a small profit this year.

Since the economic downturn of 2008 and the accompanying construction-industry crisis, the couple has taken every cost-saving measure possible, from reducing their own pay, to cutting employee salaries, to layoffs. For the past three years, the company has been in the red and Newman’s family has filled the gaps with their own savings.

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