Las Vegas Convention Authority Sues Over Initiative Petitions

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
has filed a lawsuit over two ballot initiatives that ask voters to reallocate room tax revenues away from the agency.

The convention authority, joined by every municipality in Clark County, filed the suit late Thursday in Carson City District Court to block the petitions filed last month by former state Treasurer Bob Seale.

Nevada voters would have a chance to decide whether to use some
Clark County room tax revenues to fund public education or public
safety under the petitions.

Convention authority board members said the measures would take
away too much money from the agency and adversely affect its mission of promoting Las Vegas.

"Our model is so successful that other communities are beginning to look at it," MGM Mirage Executive Vice President Chuck Bowling, a board member, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Certainly, this is not the time to throw out our plan."

Clark County and the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City and Mesquite joined the convention authority in the suit. They all have representatives on the convention authority's 14-member board.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, the board chairman, said he supported the suit because the initiatives would divert room tax dollars away from local governments as well as the tourism agency.

Seale, a former assemblyman and state Republican Party chairman,
said he doesn't think the initiatives would keep the convention authority from promoting Las Vegas.

"I really disagree with that analysis," Seale said. "Their role will not diminish. They will still have adequate dollars to accomplish their goals. I believe (the initiatives) are good public policy."

Under his plan, the convention authority would receive its current allocation of about $200 million per year, plus annual increases to cover inflation.

Any funds above that amount would go to the state's distributive school fund under one petition, or would pay for public safety improvements under the other petition.

To qualify for the November election ballot, Seale needs to secure 58,836 valid signatures for each petition by May 20.

Because the petitions would amend the Nevada Constitution, voters would have to approve them in November and again in 2010 before they could take effect.
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Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-03-23-08 1656EDT


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