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Small number has big impact on Metro's budget

Reported by: Jeff Gillan
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Updated: 8/07/2013 7:48 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- That .15 percent is a small number that's turning out to have a big impact on the biggest police department in the valley.

News 3's Jeff Gillan sat down with Metro's top money manager to find out what happens if the sales tax hike gets scuttled for good.

Nobody knows better than Karen Keller what the so-called "more cops" tax hike means. She's the department's chief financial officer.

"It would bring somewhere between $30 to $33 million just for Metro," Keller said.

Keller knows the expected hit the average Clark County citizen would pay each year if the sales tax rises from 8.1 percent to 8.25 percent.

“The number we're looking at on an annual basis is $22.50 that the average citizen would pay in increased sales tax because of the initiative,” Keller said.

So, what would your money buy?

First, it would plug a projected Metro deficit next year of $30 million.

Metro says that tax hike would keep 250 officers on the street and, Metro says it would fill the positions of about 50 other officers who leave each year.

Most importantly it would pay to hire about 100 more officers over the next three years.

If that money doesn't come?

“The first option is we lay off officers to equate that $30 million deficit, not a good solution for the safety of the community and roughly 250 is the number we're estimating right now,” Keller said.

Metro has a second option, it could dip into another reserve fund, which right now sits at $130 million.

That's the extra money from the first installment of the tax hike, which went into effect in 2005.

It hired 549 new officers; this reserve essentially kept them employed during the worst recession in Las Vegas history.

Its money Metro doesn't want to touch but may have no choice.

The Sheriff Doug Gillespie talked with News 3’s Jon Ralston last night about the money.

“In order for us to get this tax, and to get that money...if we have to delay it 60 days for me to again answer a number of questions that will probably be very similar to that which I've already answered over the last couple months, I'm willing to do that,” Gillespie said.

He may have to as the prospect of police layoffs loom in a county still crawling out of a recession.

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