The bill, which was proposed by the city, would revise state law to have the “county fair and recreation board” — the RSCVA in Washoe County — give all room tax revenue back to the city in which it was generated for hotels that are built after July 1 of this year.
Sparks officials crafted the proposal to procure more revenue for the city’s own marketing efforts and said that the bill is essential to establishing Sparks as a tourist destination.
“This proposal is about the future of our city,” community relations manager Adam Mayberry said. “We’ve invest $160 million in Legends, we host more than 1 million visitors downtown for events and the city of Sparks is the state’s fifth largest community. We’re underway in marketing our city.”
Mayberry said that this proposal is not new and that similar bills have been passed by local governments in Clark County.
“The Legends project is currently the largest construction project in northern Nevada and we need this kind of funding to continue these projects,” Mayberry said.
Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick voiced concern that the proposal was too broad.
“There isn’t anything in here that explains exactly how you will spend the money,” Kirkpatrick said. “Based on this, you could spend the money on whatever you want.”
Sparks Councilman Mike Carrigan responded to Kirkpatrick’s concern by reiterating that the sole purpose of the bill is to increase the amount of money the city receives for tourism marketing.
Councilman Ron Schmitt, Sparks Mayor Geno Martini and City Manager Shaun Carey supported the proposal.
Mayberry said that the proposal is not an effort to separate the city of Sparks from the RSCVA, saying that they do a “wonderful job of promoting our city,” but instead is a way to better market the growing city. Members of the RSCVA, though, argued that the tax revision would divide the region’s efforts to attract more tourists.
“This bill is counter-productive,” RSCVA CEO Ellen Oppenheim told the Assembly Taxation Committee on Tuesday. “This proposal would take money away from the region for debt services.”
Opponents to the proposal said that it would actually hurt tourism in the area.
“Our job is to convince airlines to add new air service or maintain current air service to Reno,” Reno-Tahoe airport marketing director Tom Medland said. “It’s important that all entities in the region work together to attract carriers.”
Oppenheim concluded the hearing by explaining that the proposal is unpopular.
“The proposal only passed in a vote of three to two by Sparks officials,” Oppenheim said. “The area’s largest hotel and casino, John Ascuaga’s Nugget, also opposes the bill.”
Following the hearing, the proposal will be discussed by members of the Nevada Assembly.