2013 Legislature: North Las Vegas lone opponent to tax distribution
February 8, 2013
North Las Vegas stood alone Thursday in pushing for a bigger gulp at the tax trough under a proposed revamping of a distribution tax formula, saying the financially strapped city has been shorted tens of millions of dollars for years.North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck verbally sparred with Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, who chaired an interim committee over the past year that worked with local governments to overhaul to distribution of consolidated taxes to local governments.While most counties and cities around the state praised the effort that resulted in Assembly Bill 68, North Las Vegas proposed an amendment seeking $25 million in its base allotment to reconcile what it claims are decades of inequities.The consolidated tax — called the C-tax for short — involves distributing six taxes collected by Department of Taxation that are then doled out to more than 100 counties, cities, town and districts. The taxes include sales, liquor, cigarette, real estate transfer and government services taxes.The amount each county and city receives is based on a complicated formula that includes factors such as property values and the consumer price index. Some cities — North Las Vegas and Fernley in particular — have argued the distribution formula is outdated and hasn’t kept pace with population growth.Buck said North Las Vegas has been shortchanged to the tune of $20 million a year. She said her city receives about $168 per resident, far less than the $376 received by Las Vegas, $547 in Boulder City and $291 in Henderson.“North Las Vegas’ base issue remains uncorrected” under the new proposed formula, she said. “That is why we are here today with an amendment seeking legislative relief.”But Kirkpatrick, whose legislative district is in North Las Vegas, fired back at city officials.“This formula has never been set on population,” she said, and scolded city officials for trying to take a cut off the top at such late notice without providing details to the committee.No action on the bill was taken during Thursday’s joint hearing before the Assembly Taxation and Senate Revenue and Economic Development committees.Fernley, a city 30 miles east of Reno, opposed the bill in written comments last year but took a neutral stance at Thursday’s hearing.The city didn’t incorporate until 2001 and is the only city formed after the tax system was established. The city sued the state last year over the tax formula. The Nevada Supreme Court recently threw out some of the city’s claims but kept the case alive, sending it back to a lower court to proceed.In its suit, Fernley argued its share of the funding pie has remained relatively unchanged, despite a more than doubling of its population to around 19,000.Fernley received $86,000 in 1997. According to court document, its share in 2011 was $143,000.In comparison, lawyers argued that other small cities two years ago received much more: Fallon received $1.4 million, Boulder City $7.9 million, Elko $11 million, and Ely $4.9 million.