- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Clark County lawmakers handed the Las Vegas area’s top cop a fiscal defeat Tuesday, rejecting for a third time a bid to raise the local sales tax rate to hire more police officers.

Sheriff Doug Gillespie, who previously announced he won’t seek re-election, had vowed to make passage of a two-stage “More Cops” tax hike a signature element of his remaining months in office.

The measure would have boosted the sales tax in Clark County and the Las Vegas Strip from 8.1 percent to 8.25 percent by October 2015. The result would have added 15 cents to the cost of a $100 item.

The proposal gained approval from the state Legislature last year but needed the support of the County Commission to pass.

It failed twice before, and on Tuesday it needed support from a super-majority of five of seven commissioners. It mustered support from just four.

Gillespie postponed immediate reaction and scheduled a news conference later in the day.

The sheriff had said revenues from the tax would help maintain police staffing in a region home to about 2 million residents and 40 million tourists a year.

Without the tax increase, Gillespie said the number of sworn Las Vegas police officers could decrease from 2,483 to 1,871. With the increase, he said the state’s largest police agency would be able to add 101 more officers during the next two years.

County commissioners who voted against the measure last year pointed to a surplus in an existing More Cops account that officials say has grown to $140 million. But Gillespie gave ground with a promise to use much of the reserve.

He also began emphasizing that because the tax would be countywide, police departments in Boulder City, Henderson, North Las Vegas and Mesquite could get funding to support hiring a total of about 70 officers.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s annual budget of some $490 million is funded by property taxes, sales taxes and $320 million in combined annual contributions from Clark County and the city of Las Vegas.

Gillespie has projected $30 million deficit in next year’s budget and raised the specter of eliminating up to 250 department positions.

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Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, https://www.lvrj.com

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