Bill coming to fix green-building tax-break law | NevadaAppeal.com

Bill coming to fix green-building tax-break law

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Nevada Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, left, talks with Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, during a hearing Tuesday at the Legislature. Buckley is questioning the legality of the governor's executive order to temporarily ban "green" building tax breaks.
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Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, told the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday the group developing a fix for the law that gives tax breaks to environmentally efficient buildings should be ready for introduction and a hearing Friday.

Townsend said he and Assembly members Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, and Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-Las Vegas, are working out a compromise they hope everyone can support.

The tax breaks were approved by the 2005 Legislature and let businesses that construct environmentally efficient buildings escape all but the base 2 percent sales tax on construction materials, furnishings and fittings. The law also cuts property taxes for those buildings by as much as 50 percent for up to 10 years.

But nobody considered the fiscal impact those cuts would have on state and local government and the school districts which rely on both sales and property taxes.

Clark County school officials estimated the three projects already approved in that county – MGM’s City Center, the Fontainebleau and Sands – will cost them up to $85 million in sales tax revenue alone.

And that hits the state treasury because the state is legally required to make up school district revenue shortfalls.

The Legislature passed a bill last week suspending the law, but Gov. Jim Gibbons vetoed it, instead issuing an executive order putting future approvals for those tax breaks on hold.

That executive order sunsets June 4 when the 2007 Legislature is to end. Gibbons said that sunset is designed to make lawmakers act quickly.

Townsend said the bill to fix the situation will be introduced and heard by a joint session of Assembly and Senate Commerce and Labor committees Friday afternoon.

But he gave no details of what the bill will do, saying that is still being worked out.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.