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Sheriff asks commission for tax hike to hire more officers

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Updated: 6/24/2013 10:18 pm
LAS VEGAS -- Metro Sheriff Doug Gillespie is up to bat again.

This time asking Clark County commissioners to enact a sales tax hike so he can pay for more police officers.

Gillespie's sales tax barely cleared the Nevada Legislature in a special session that came down to the wire.

Capitol correspondent Mackenzie Warren followed the narrow victory up north and tonight she's following up with Sheriff Gillespie.

Gillespie's fight for more police officers is far from over though Clark County commissioners are expected to pass the tax in three potentially contentious meetings lie ahead for the sheriff with a final vote in August.

Today the Metro fiscal affairs committee, made up of city and county commissioners, met to discuss the proposed sales tax.

It seems Gillespie is tired of making the sales pitch: His department needs more money to hire more officers. The sell was tougher than he imagined in Carson City and now he's answering more questions in Clark County.

After a closed-door meeting to discuss police union contracts, Gillespie gave News 3 a few minutes to talk about the so-called "more cops" tax.

“This money would go to police officers and their associated salary benefits as well as the equipment,” he said.

The sales tax would generate an estimated $22.5 million, but the fact is, Gillespie is entering negotiations with three police unions, all seeking raises. Which begs the question: If Metro's current police officers want more money how can Gillespie afford more cops?

It's a reality Gillespie shared with lawmakers.

“My testimony to the Legislature is that we would not be able to hire more than 100 additional police officers and that a good portion of this .15 (percent) could be used for existing positions,” Gillespie said.

Clark County commissioner Steve Sisolak voted against the sales tax last time.

“I’m concerned our sales tax rate is getting higher,” Sisolak said.

Sisolak says the sheriff has some convincing to do.

“Technically, money can be used for anything and there is a perception that everyday people are saying I don’t want to pay more sales tax if you're going to give more pay and benefits to current employees,” Sisolak said.

Gillespie makes his final pitch to commissioners next week. The final decision and vote comes Aug. 6.

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