Crime Out of the Tax District

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Neighbors have questioned police why there hasn't been a better response to the Lakemill Lodge, where News Channel 8 has uncovered at least 19-hundred calls for service in the past 18 months.

Chief Michael Poehlman says there's a good reason why patrols are being utilized elsewhere downtown, and it has to do with the creation of the tax district.

Back in 1995, dozens of businesses went before the city council and asked to voluntarily tax themselves if they could get more police protection.

They pay nearly a million dollars a year for the bike patrols and the motel sweeps. But, Chief Poehlman, in July of 2005, requested a special sweep of the lodge because he saw a need there.

Poehlman, Police Chief, "Problems from that property were spilling over into the tax district. It only made sense to go across the street."

The chief says, for a while, the problems stopped, and the Motel Interdiction Team went back to its duties of cleaning up properties within the tax district.

Poehlman says he can't add more officers to the M.I.T. team unless he can hire 23 more police officers. So, for now, two officers are responsible for forty to fifty hotels in the downtown core.

Councilman, Dave Aiazzi, says their priority is serving the business owners who pay that extra property tax.

Aiazzi, City Council, "The businesses outside the district want the extra protection but they don't want to pay for it. That's not fair."

And, the only governing body that can expand the district boundaries is the state legislature.

First, the business has to want to pay the extra property tax, then a percentage of the businesses in the tax district have to agree to the petition.

Bob Martini, Tax District Board Member, "We'll happy expand the boundaries if Reno hires more police officers. Otherwise, we're diluting the services we have now."

Board members say the Lakemill Lodge owners have not asked to pay to be part of the district. Yet, managers there say they need help to keep the crime off their block.

Mac Hall, Lodge Manager, "It needs to be a community wide effort. If we clean up they just move next door. So, police need to be cleaning up the places next door and so on and so forth."