Hours of often emotional testimony for and against a proposed “More Cops” sales tax for agencies in Clark County culminated in a dramatic failure to pass either competing proposal.
The Clark County Commission considered a .15 percent increase, supported by Commissioner Tom Collins, or a half-sized .075 percent increase supported by Commissioner Susan Brager. The larger increase would have allowed the Metropolitan Police Department to close a $30 million budget shortfall and hire nearly 100 officers, according to Sheriff Doug Gillespie
Gillespie and police leadership of Mesquite and Henderson spoke for the measure. Much of the public testimony against the sales-tax increase focused not on the need for more police, but on Metro’s contentious record with use of force issues, the use of body cameras by officers, executive pay and other issues.
Three commission votes followed almost four hours of contentious testimony. The first vote on Brager’s .075 increase won the majority of commissioners, at 4-3, but failed to achieve the 5-2 supermajority required by the Legislature.
The second vote for Collins’ full .15 percent increase garnered only three votes.
Then Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who opposed both increases, made a motion that would have blocked re-hearing the issue for at least six months. That measure did not require a supermajority, but failed 3-4.
The increase could be introduced at the next regular commission meeting. If so, the sales-tax increase could generate another day of public testimony and round of commission votes in November.
Gillespie repeatedly told the commission that the projected budget for Metro police next year could lead to the elimination of 250 officers from the force of about 2,500, but commissioners noted that Metro has a cash reserve of more than $130 million.