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Why Nye County officials are lobbying to keep its Public Safety Sales Tax

Nye County is preparing for the 2025 Nevada Legislative Session, with commissioners selecting the subject of the one Bill Draft Request (BDR) the county will submit for consideration: the Nye County Public Safety Sales Tax.

Commonly referred to as the PSST, this tax was established by an act of legislation in 2007, authorizing the county to impose a sales tax of up to one-half of 1 percent to fund staff and equipment for the local public safety departments. That act has a sunset clause that eliminates the tax on Sept. 30, 2027 but the money generated by it has been an asset to the county.

The board is eager to see the act amended to continue the tax. Out of the 13 potential BDRs listed for consideration during the June 18 meeting, the PSST proposal was the sole item to draw the board’s interest.

“We do have an item that definitely needs to be looked at, this one here for emergency services, fire and police department, which is the PSST,” Nye County Commissioner Frank Carbone stated, while commission chair Debra Strickland agreed, “And I think that’s the only one that should be considered.”

Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Lewis called the PSST a “game-changer” for his department, telling commissioners, “It has changed the complexity of our operations in positive ways that I cannot even describe in a just a couple of minutes. Operationally, allowing us to acquire the necessary equipment to do our jobs, allowing us to get additional staff, which also helps us eliminate overtime, allowing us to acquire the necessary capital for growth patterns that our community has expressed such concerns over - that is all being driven by PSST. And I can’t say enough that we need that, so desperately.”

Nye County Sheriff Joe McGill threw his support behind the proposal as well, citing the recent acquisition of all-new radar units for his team as just one example of the upgrades made possible by PSST funding.

“You might recall about a year and a half ago, right after I took office, we were able to use the PSST fund to purchase new radar units for every single one of our patrol vehicles. Those units were out of date, many of them were not working and that was the only way we had to fund that multi-million dollar purchase,” McGill detailed. “If there is a way we can continue with the funding source after the expiration, I am 100% in favor of it.”

Putting some hard numbers to the proposal, Nye County Comptroller Helen Bae reported that the PSST brings in about $5 million annually for the county, money that is split equally between fire services and the sheriff’s office.

“So each relies every year on about $2.5 million. If that goes away, that does have a severe impact to our operations here,” Bae stated.

With everyone in concurrence, Carbone made the motion to select the PSST BDR for the 2025 Legislative Session, with a second from commissioner Bruce Jabbour. The motion passed 5-0.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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