The Nevada Assembly on Tuesday revived a measure to let Washoe County hold an election on whether to raise property transfer taxes to pay for school renovations and buildings.
The measure was rejected in the Senate in April, but the Assembly added it as an amendment to another Senate bill, SB154, dealing with property transfer taxes. That bill passed 33-9 on Tuesday, with those opposing it all Republicans. The Senate must agree with the change before it goes to the governor's desk.
The bill would allow the school district to place a measure on next year's general election ballot, asking voters to approve increases in real-estate transfer taxes and to divert some room taxes to schools.
Assembly members from Washoe County were divided on the issue
along party lines. Democratic Assembly members Bernie Anderson, Sheila Leslie, Debbie Smith and David Bobzien pushed for it, saying schools were badly in need of repair, while Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, said raising room taxes will hurt the city's tourism economy.
"We can win or lose a convention based on these rates," she said.
Leslie read a letter from a special education teacher who at different times had held class in an old refrigeration room, a janitor's closet and an old bathroom.
"Our teachers and our students deserve better," she said.
Republican Assemblymen John Marvel of Battle Mountain and John Carpenter of Elko said they supported the measure because it allowed the people of Washoe County to decide on the taxes through an election.
Washoe County is the only county in Nevada that does not get school funding from real-estate transfer taxes. District officials had asked the Legislature for the authorization.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)