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Room tax ordinance on hold

by Geoff Dornan

A majority of Carson supervisors gave in to the pleas of Comstock Trailer Park owner Gene LePire Thursday and put the year-long effort to update and clarify the city’s room tax rules on hold.

Supervisor Richard Staub said LePire “brings up some issues I don’t think we can ignore.”

LePire argued RV parks should not have to charge renters the city’s 10 percent room tax for their first month of occupancy. He said he rents spaces at his park for $400 a month and that would cost customers another $40 for their first month. He told supervisors for that difference, those people will park their RVs in Silver Springs or some other place where they don’t have to pay and cost him and other Carson businesses money.

He told the board RV owners are largely seniors on fixed incomes and have to watch every expenditure. At the same time, he told the board those seniors have “$80,000 to $300,000 invested in their rigs.”

Supervisor Robin Williamson said she doubts the one-time extra cost of $40 would make them stay away from Carson City.

“It makes no sense to me if somebody’s driving a $300,000 RV and it costs them $2.50 a gallon for gas to drive around, that $40 makes that much of a difference.”

But Supervisors Staub and Pete Livermore took up LePire’s case, arguing they should look into the competitive market for RV parks and get more information before giving final approval to the new ordinance.

Carson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Director Candy Duncan told the board their research shows 80 percent of long-term visitors to motels and RV parks pay by the week and, therefore, already pay the 10 percent tax for the first month. And she pointed out that, even those who pay weekly, only pay that room tax for their first month in a motel, hotel or RV park.

She said the primary thrust behind the rewrite of the room tax ordinance was to get rid of archaic, confusing and contradictory language in the old statute – primarily related to whether apartment dwellers and others in their situation should pay the tax. Those moving into apartments don’t get hit with the tax now but the old law indicates they should.

Mayor Ray Masayko said he opposed delaying the vote because the convention and visitor’s bureau has spent a lot of time working it out and the ordinance needs repair. He said LePire should have brought his concerns up before the final meeting of the supervisors.

Shelly Aldean agreed with Williamson saying the extra $40 dollars at LePire’s park would drive them to other counties “stretches credibility.” She agreed with Masayko that LePire should have raised the issues earlier. But she said she didn’t think anything would be harmed by postponing a decision until LePire has a chance to make his arguments.

She cast the deciding vote to reject the ordinance and send it back for further discussion.

Contact Geoff Dornan at nevadaappeal@sbcglobal.net or 687-8750.