ELKO, Nev. (AP) - Legal brothel owners in northeastern Nevada are trying to beat back the city of Elko’s proposal to double their license application fees and more than triple renewal fees at the regulated houses of prostitution.
The Elko Daily Free Press reports the dramatic increases are outlined in a business impact statement scheduled to go before the Elko City Council for the first time on Tuesday.
Under the current proposal, license application fees for license would increase from $2,500 per applicant to $5,000. The annual renewal fee would climb from the current $3,000 to $10,000.
The owners of the four brothels licensed in Elko about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of the Utah line said the increases were proposed without sufficient research or feedback regarding the economic consequences to affected businesses. They said they understand the need to increase the renewal fee, which hasn’t gone up since 2010. But they say a $5,000 fee would be more reasonable.
A public hearing is scheduled Dec. 18. No final action will occur before next month.
State law bans brothels in the counties that include Las Vegas and Reno-Sparks. Licensing fees vary in the other mostly rural counties where they are regulated by county and local ordinances.
Voters in Lyon County east of Carson City rejected an advisory ballot question in November that proposed banning brothels there.
The owners of Elko’s brothels say they’re being unfairly compared to legal houses of prostitution elsewhere in the state where the population is much larger. They wrote on Nov. 19 their business potential is limited by the “relatively small size of our community and severe zoning restrictions, which limit us to existing locations that are away from freeway access.”
“We have no potential to expand our number of rooms as do other brothels with much higher populations in other areas.”
Licensing fees in Nye County outside Las Vegas range from $2,343 for bordellos with five or fewer prostitutes to as much as $46,875 for those with 25 or more.
If the new fees go through, Elko expects to collect $40,000 per year for the license renewals. No application revenue is anticipated at this point because the four brothels have current owners, according to the business impact statement.
City revenue from the increased fees would be used to cover the costs for Elko police to enforce the local ordinance.
The city also is proposing an amended ordinance stating brothel fees will be determined by council resolution rather than set out in the code.
But the first reading of the ordinance can’t be held until the business impact statement is approved, City Clerk Kelly Wooldridge said.
Information from: Elko Daily Free Press, http://www.elkodaily.com
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