Senate sustains veto of juvenile detention center
The Nevada Senate on Thursday sustained the governor’s veto of the 2007 legislation that would have paid for construction of a juvenile detention center for Churchill and Lyon counties.
SB146 was approved by lawmakers to allow those two counties to raise property taxes up to eight cents to pay for construction of the juvenile detention center and exempt that amount from the statutory $3.64 cap on property taxes.
Gibbons vetoed the measure after the close of the 2007 session, putting it on the agenda for this legislative session.
“The goal sought by this bill is a good one,” said Gibbons in his veto message. “However, the bill will almost certainly increase taxes in two counties without voter approval.”
County officials protested the veto at the time, saying it leaves them the mandate to care for juvenile offenders but not the ability.
“Now we’re placed in a very difficult situation where we don’t have, at times, places to put our youth,” said then-Lyon manager Bob Hadfield.
He said it creates a potentially dangerous situation for the public and county personnel.
But this year, he and B.J. Selinder, representing Churchill County, said there was no push to override the veto.
On the floor, no senator, not even Fallon Republican Mike McGinness who sponsored SB146, voted to override. With Sen. John Lee of Las Vegas absent, the vote was 20-0 to sustain the veto.
The only comment came from Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, who said that while he would sustain the veto, it should not be interpreted as adopting Gibbons’ stance that only voters can approve tax or revenue increases.
McGinness said neither county put the question on the ballot in November to get voter approval.
“Both counties, due to the economic situation, didn’t feel they could impose any more property tax,” he said.
McGinness and Selinder said they are hoping to change the governor’s proposal sweeping the mineral and geothermal lease revenue into the General Fund to help cover the state shortfall. Selinder said that money was the backup plan to pay for the detention center. Churchill was in line for about $6 million in lease money before the governor’s proposal to take it.
“We just hope the budget can be balanced without taking anything away from local government,” said Selinder.
McGinness said Lyon also badly needs a new jail which mineral lease money could help pay for.