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Stadium Committee Gets More Time, Bigger Assignment

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Doug Puppel

The committee tasked with deciding how to expand the Las Vegas Convention Center is also looking at a possible domed stadium and how to improve policing.

Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak is in the thick of discussions to build a domed stadium in Las Vegas, putting more police on the street, and figuring out how to pay for it all.

He serves on the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, which this week had its deadline and scope extended by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Along with sorting out a location for a stadium that would lure the Oakland Raiders to Southern Nevada, the committee is working to structure the project’s financing.

Sisolak told KNPR's State of Nevada that location and funding of the project are the two biggest obstacles. 

Originally, backers of the project said it would cost $1.4 billion with $750 million coming from a hotel tax. 

At the committee meeting this week, the investors said it would be $2 billion because of land prices, parking lots and infrastructure. 

“I think a lot of people here are supportive of the team the question is how do you make it work financially with the public and the building of the stadium,” Sisolak said. 

One of the biggest questions about the stadium is whether it should be built if the Raiders decide not to come here. Many people have speculated the stadium talk here is really just a ploy to get Oakland to build the team a new stadium there. 

Support comes from

Sisolak doesn't see it that way. He said Raiders' owner Marc Davis is committed to bringing the team, but he wants a commitment for a new stadium. 

“I don’t think there is any appetite to build a stadium if we don’t get an NFL team by anybody on this committee,” he said, “But that’s a chicken-and-egg scenario. You can’t get a team without a stadium and you don’t want a stadium without a team”

However, Sisolak pointed out a chance to get an NFL team does not come a long very often. There are 32 teams in the National Football League and most are unlikely to ever leave their home towns. 

Critics of the stadium - including several people who called in to talk to Chairman Sisolak about this topic on KNPR's State of Nevada - say the tax revenue should be spent elsewhere like shoring up Southern Nevada's failing schools.

Sisolak agreed that there are some pressing needs in Southern Nevada like education and infrastructure. But he said, the idea is the stadium would bring even more money in.

“What the hope is that if you took a site and built a stadium there that there would be other economic development go around that stadium that would cause an increase in the tax base," he said, "Everybody would benefit as a result of that.”

And he said public money is used for other projects, including the Tesla battery factory in Northern Nevada, which received millions in tax credits, and the Faraday Future electric car factory in North Las Vegas, which also got credits.

The governor also asked the panel this week to assess law enforcement needs in the tourist areas and make public safety recommendations.

"We need a bigger law enforcement presence on Las Vegas Boulevard," Sisolak said. 

He said that money from the room tax should be used to pay for that increased enforcement. Sisolak said he has worked with Sheriff Joe Lombardo to come with a "significant plan" to put more law enforcement officers in the resort corridor.  

While he supports room tax money going to pay for more police officers along the Las Vegas Strip. Sisolak questions the idea of a reviving the More Cops tax, which increased the sales tax to pay for more police officers.

Besides the fact that it would be up to the Legislature to revive the increase, he is still not sure it is the best way to fund public safety.

"You get into the question there about is that the fairest way to pay for law enforcement," he said, "I don't think it is. I will maintain there are much better ways."

Sisolak said the property tax cap put into place during the boom years has hurt the county's income. 

He said to reach the staffing levels outlined by Sheriff Lombardo it would be "a significant increase in the budget" of about $30 to $35 million.

The chairman has also been involved in the discussions about the fuel revenue index tax. He took issue with the way his colleague Commissioner Chris Giunchigilani characterized the tax when she talked to KNPR's State of Nevada a few weeks ago.

The tax will be on the ballot this November. 

"I'm supportive of the increase of the fuel tax." he said, "I think it is very important to the citizens to put out accurate information as it relates to any referendum."

According to Sisolak, the ballot measure is not a continuation of the fuel tax that was approved by the County Commission in 2013 and implemented in 2014. That fuel tax adds three cents to the price of a gallon of gas for two years then adds four cents in the third year to pay for road improvements across the valley.

"This would be in effect 10 more tax increases of somewhere between three and seven cents a gallon every year for each of the next 10 years," he said, "So, it would go to a little over a dollar a gallon in terms of taxes."

He said those taxes would stay in place for 20 more years to service the bonds that were sold to get the money for road projects. Sisolak encouraged people to do their own research on the issue to understand what they're voting for and then decide if it is worth it. 

"We definitely have road projects that need to be done," Sisolak, "This would allow for a lot more road construction to occur for the next 10 years with that will come a little more congestion... In the long run would we be better? Certainly. But you have to determine if you feel that's a good expenditure of your resources."

For a complete list of the projects the Regional Transportation Commission says would be funded by the fuel tax, go to rtcsnv.com.

Guests

Steve Sisolak, chairman, Clark County Commission 

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