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METRO MONEY CRUNCH: Smaller work force, bigger deficit hinder efforts

Reported by: Jim Snyder
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Updated: 3/05/2013 9:53 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- Metro Sheriff Doug Gillespie has been watching the crime rate go up while his police force shrinks, and he says that is no coincidence.

Even with the elimination of an additional 117 officer positions in the coming year, he's left with a $46 million hole in his budget.
Coming Tuesday on News 3 at 6: Gillespie says gun control advocates are missing the mark by focusing on assault weapons.

“I can't cut anymore,” Gillespie said, “and I can make a very compelling case to anyone who would want to sit down with me and I explain very clearly as to why we can't go any lower.”

To keep the number of Metro officers from going any lower, the sheriff says he needs the Nevada State Legislature to release the second half of a sales tax hike voters passed back in 2004. It would raise the tax on the things you buy by a quarter of one cent.

But when he asked the Clark County Commission to support that plan this past week, he ran into some resistance.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak says he's serious about his opposition to the sales tax hike.

“At a time that we're facing such a huge economic impact in Clark County and so many of my constituents are unemployed, have lost their jobs or losing their houses or cars, a quarter-cent doesn’t sound like a lot but it is a lot if you add a little here, a little there,” Sisolak said.

Gillespie says cutting “a little here and a little there” is taking its toll on his department's ability to protect the county. And he says it's no coincidence that the crime rate has risen along with those response times.

Sisolak says he's not arguing for fewer cops on the street, but he thinks Gillespie could find the money to fund officer positions by trimming Metro's civilian work force.

In the end, the County Commission voted 5 to 2 to support the request for the quarter-cent sales tax hike, with Sisolak and Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani voting no.

The Las Vegas City Council voted to support it, too, but the State Legislature will have the final say.
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