On Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016, Governor Brian Sandoval issued a statement announcing he intends to call a Special Session of the Nevada Legislature to review and vote on a number of measures recommended by the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee. The statement issued by the Governor said a special session would be called no earlier than Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, and no later than Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, allowing time for both the Washoe County and the Clark County Board of Commissioners to appoint and fill a total of five (5) vacant seats within the Senate and Assembly.
The recommended measures include an increase in the transient lodging tax to fund an expansion and renovation of the Las Vegas Convention Center, the creation of a special tax district and a local sales and use tax increase within the proposed district to fund additional Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers, and an increase the transient lodging tax within the district to partially fund a 65,000 seat, NFL grade, domed stadium project, intended to house the Raider franchise.
Funding for the expansion and renovation of the public convention center is proposed to be derived from an increase to the transient lodging tax of 0.5 percent in Clark County. A cap of $25 million will be implemented on the total annual Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority collection allowance local entities may receive, with any amount greater than that diverted to the expansion and renovation project.1
Clark County welcomed 42 million visitors in 2015, a number that will likely continue to grow as the state and county continues to diversify its tourism industry. With this increase in visitors, the need for public safety is prevalent. While funding for more police officers has been approved by the Nevada Legislature before, many take the position that it has fallen short of the demand for more officers. The proposed increase to the sales and use tax rate in Clark County is 0.1 percent. This increase is incremental and the first portion of the increase would be used to fund the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, with the remaining incremental revenue distributed between local police agencies, based on population.2 The proposal also seeks removal of the sunset provision of the Clark County Sales and Use Tax, which is currently set for 2025.3
While funding of the convention center projects and the addition of police officers are not widely contested amongst Southern Nevada law makers, the stadium funding model has given pause to many. In the model’s current form, $650 million would be borne by private investors, $500 million of the total $1.9 billion estimated cost to construct the stadium would come from the NFL/Oakland Raiders, and $750 million would be generated from public funds.4 The public funds would be derived from the increase in the transient lodging tax, with an increase of 0.88 percent in the primary gaming corridor, to include the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas. In addition to this increase, a 0.5 percent increase in the transient lodging tax within the proposed stadium district, but outside of the primary gaming corridor is proposed.5
What is not clear is exactly what the boundaries are for the proposed stadium district and what other forms of tax revenue collected within the district will be diverted into the stadium project. Taxes such as the Live Entertainment Tax and Sales and Use Tax have been suggested, along with the transient lodging tax; however, at this time no other taxes have been specified through the proposed legislation. With many questions still left unanswered, and a seemingly ambiguously drafted funding model, the legislature and public alike are seeking clarity before going all in on these unprecedented figures.