Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
October 06, 2004

ARCHIVE: The Politics of Safety #3



PLASKON: From traffic initiatives to mediating disputes and investigating crime, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's mission is to protect the people, property and rights of 1 million one hundred 85 thousand residents in the city and county. There are about 1.85 officers per thousand people to do that, below the average in the west of 2.1 officers per thousand people. The police department wants to be closer to the average and so it's asking voters to approve a half percent increase in sales taxes to get there. Keith Schwer, Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV estimates the tax would cost 41 dollars per taxpayer a year, based on the 44-thousand dollar a year median income in Las Vegas.

SCHWER: People who save a lot will pay a smaller percentage so typically a sales tax impacts lower income households that spend a greater percentage of their income.

PLASKON: The costs of police protection aren't distributed evenly right now either. Property tax payers fund the majority of 383 million dollar police budget this year. The cost per resident should be near 179 dollars a year according to Department of Justice statistics from the year 2000. But the Las Vegas Police cost 323 dollars per resident, 144 dollars above the national average. More current statistics show that Las Vegans pay 100 dollars more per officer than the amount residents of similar size cities like Phoenix pay. Don McDonald is an author of the opposing arguments to the ballot initiative. He says there should probably be more police but historical growth in property taxes can pay for those officers. He has calculated how much more Las Vegans will pay if the measure is approved.

MCDONALD: In 2006 the tax would raise 80 million and in 2009 the tax would deliver 240 million.

PLASKON: Speaking on KNPR's State of Nevada, Sheriff Bill Young said extra revenue is part of the plan.

YOUNG: We did quite a bit of research and analyzing and I dispute how much money he says we would raise. But we would build some cash reserves.

PLASKON: With or without a plan, the ballot question is only advisory. If voters find a sales tax increase palatable funding for police could be re-structured entirely.

BOGGS-MCDONALD: It is a very complicated formula.

PLASKON: Lynette Boggs has monitored police spending for over a decade as a member of the police fiscal oversight committee, assistant county manager, city council member and county commissioner. She knows the current formula.

BOGGS-MCDONALD: It takes into account population and calls for service. So if more calls come in from the county or city, that is where the money shifts.

PLASKON: She is running against Democrat David Goldwater for County Comission Seat F. Both candidates are in favor of approving a sales tax because a sales tax would add tourists to the payer mix for police services. Metro estimates that 40 percent of revenue from new sales taxes would come from tourists. The current police funding formula mostly paid for by Nevada property owners was enhanced by additional property taxes approved in 1988 and 1996. Boggs McDonald says a sales tax for public safety would tap Las Vegas residents from two sides.

BOGGS-MCDONALD: A county taxpayer would not only be paying from the general fund, but property tax as well as sales tax and so that would be a the percentage the city-county funding could possibly be on the table at the legislature.

PLASKON: A sales tax would free up property taxes currently allocated to police and allow local government to spend the money on other services. Taxes approved specifically for police have taken a greater burden over the past 5 years. The city and county have actually reduced their share of funding to the police department by 6 percent. If a sales tax is approved the county will want to further divert funds McDonald says for projects like a consolidated police station or for child welfare.

BOGGS-MCDONALD: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and we will also have to find ways to fund more jail beds, prosecutors and more public defenders and so as a consequence the entire funding structure will have to be debated in the legislature.

PLASKON: Restructuring police funding to accommodate a sales tax and free up more county and city dollars would affect all five police agencies in the valley. All of them have signed on in support of the tax increase, except the North Las Vegas police department. It's chief is staying neutral and not playing politics with safety.

Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR

See discussion rules.


Apr 4, 2009 | Drug Donation Program
Nevada lawmakers are debating the creation of a program that would help cancer patients get expensive prescription drugs for less.

Mar 13, 2009 | Budget Wrangling
As state lawmakers wrestle with Nevada's multi-billion-dollar budget deficit, there are several plans afoot aimed at softening the next economic bust.

Mar 2, 2009 | Autism
The cost of treating children with autism can be $24,000 to $40,000 per child per year according to the Autism Coalition of Nevada. A bill before the Nevada Legislature aims to help families pay for the care.

Feb 16, 2007 | Chinese New Year
This weekend marks a celebration of Chinese New Year. KNPR's Rick Andrews reports on how the holiday is being celebrated by the valley's growing Asian community.

Dec 7, 2006 | Food and Beverage
The economy of scale for food and beverage operations in Las Vegas means any edge in efficiency is real money. Rick Andrews reports on a software product scoring with food and beverage managers looking at the bottom line...and what you're likely to order.

Nov 15, 2006 | Global Gaming Expo
The Global Gaming Expo trade show and conference got underway Tuesday in Las Vegas. Vendors showcase their latest wares including new slot machines.

Nov 1, 2006 | Stardust Memories
When it opened in 1958 the Stardust was the world's largest hotel. Now, after more than 48 years, it's closed.

Sep 27, 2006 | Nevada Northern Railway
The 'Nevada Northern' is celebrating its centenial anniversary. News 88.9's Rick Andrews went on a tour of the museum with executive director Mark Bassett.

Jun 30, 2006 | Standing Up for Ringo
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley tells the story of how she saw the Beatles in Las Vegas in August 1964.

Jun 29, 2006 | Sports Supplements
From fortified cereals to energy drinks to serious sports nutrition, people are willing to spend lots money to supplement their diets. Rick Andrews reports on the business of sports supplements.

May 25, 2006 | Love
Wednesday Cirque du Soleil provided a glimpse of their much anticipated show based on the music of the Beatles. Flo Rogers reports on Love.

May 24, 2006 | Telecommunications
A Senate telecommunications bill currently being considered includes provisions on most everything, but some worry that controversial measures will derail the entire package.

May 16, 2006 | Nanotech
Universities across the country are spending millions to expand nano technology research...manipulating molecules 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. Rick Andrews reports on nano research at UNLV.

Apr 24, 2006 | Earthscope
Hualapai Mountain Park, near Kingman, has been chosen by the National Science Foundation to be home to a seismic monitoring station. Gillian Ferris Kohl reports.

Apr 18, 2006 | Anatomical Donation for Science
In the second of two reports exploring innovative medical facilities in the Valley, Rick Andrews visits the Medical Education and Research Institute of Nevada in Henderson.

Apr 12, 2006 | Immigration Reform Stalled
Immigration legislation in the U.S. Senate is at a standstill. Many in the Republican Party blame Nevada Democrat, Senator Harry Reid for the impasse. Jill Morrison reports from Capitol Hill.

Apr 1, 2006 | New Plans for Nellis
The first of April brings news that a large piece of military land in Las Vegas may be redeveloped.

Mar 28, 2006 | Test Site Worker Compensation
Senator Harry Reid is trying to get compensation for Test Site workers who were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, but never compensated.

Feb 27, 2006 | StoryCorps - Alice Keys
Alice Keys has been active in the African American community for decades and known through her association with the Moulin Rouge Casino. Here's her recollection of meeting one of the great African Americans of the last century.

Feb 21, 2006 | StoryCorps - Alan Morel and Mike Genoshe
When close friends interview each other, the stories are often more intimate and revealing than talking to a reporter. A case in point is Alan Morel and Mike Genoshe talking about their hopes for their adopted son.

Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.