Council eyes lodgers tax increase

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By Martin Salazar

Visitors to Las Vegas who stay in hotels and motels could be paying a little more for their rooms in the near future if one city councilor gets his way.

Councilor Joey Herrera is proposing that the city raise its lodgers tax rate from 4 percent to 5 percent to generate more money for improvements to Rodriguez Park and other baseball facilities. State law allows municipalities to charge the higher tax — which is tacked on to hotel and motel rates — although the city has previously opted not to charge the full amount.

The City Council last week approved a resolution directing staff to prepare an ordinance to increase the rate charged. Under Herrera’s proposal, 2 percent would be allocated to brick-and-mortar projects for baseball facilities. Public hearings will be required before the council can formally adopt the tax hike.

The measure was on the council’s consent agenda and garnered no discussion at last Wednesday’s meeting. But during a council work session earlier this month, Herrera said the city needs to find funds to upgrade Rodriguez Park, which, if all goes according to plan, will be the home of a new pro baseball team called the Las Vegas Train Robbers. Herrera said investing in baseball facilities would help bring in tourists to Las Vegas.

Mayor Alfonso Ortiz said he likes the proposal to increase the tax but is concerned that trying to earmark the funding specifically for baseball facilities would be an intrusion into the city manager’s authority.

Councilor Vince Howell, meanwhile, said he had spoken to hotel and motel owners in town, and they are concerned about yet another increase being imposed on them, complaining that they’re already facing increases in their property taxes and utility rates.

Herrera countered that it would be a modest increase. He said that it would mean an additional $1 for a room that rents for $100.

City Manager Timothy Dodge said council approval on the measure would start the process of reaching out to lodgers to get their input.