Clark County irritated at LVRDA

Geoffrey Lawrence

The Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency (LVRDA) is trying to create a tourism improvement district within the city's redevelopment zone.  That would allow the LVRDA to issue sales tax anticipated revenue (STAR) bonds in order to provide corporate welfare subsidies to private developers. 

The bonds would be paid back by diverting 75 percent of sales taxes within the tourism improvement district away from other state and local government coffers.  It would effectively allow city officials to appropriate money that would otherwise go to the county, the school district, the police department, the fire department and the state and use that money to provide "incentives" to their friends in real estate development.  At a time when state and local governments are facing serious fiscal difficulties, the use of STAR bonds by the LVRDA would be particularly egregious.

The LVRDA already uses tax-increment financing to siphon property taxes away from other governmental services.  Use of STAR bonding would simply give the LVRDA another funding source to build things like mob museums and palatial new city halls and to give handouts to private developers—all while depriving legitimate government services of financial support.

Clark County officials have now taken notice of the fact that the LVRDA is sticking it to them. They have recently criticized the LVRDA for depriving county government of tax revenue. Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani has accused the LVRDA of trying to "double-dip" by trying to take sales taxes as well as property taxes.  Hmmm, sounds familiar.

Commissioner Giunchigliani has further acknowledged that if the projects the LVRDA wishes to fund were truly worthwhile, "then the developer would build it without these incentives."  Apparently, she thinks that the LVRDA's subsidies simply amount to corporate welfare.  Hmmm, that sounds familiar, too.

Perhaps if more state and local policymakers took note of the way in which tax dollars are being wasted in Nevada, they wouldn't claim to need additional revenues.

Geoffrey Lawrence

Geoffrey Lawrence

Director of Research

Geoffrey Lawrence is director of research at Nevada Policy.

Lawrence has broad experience as a financial executive in the public and private sectors and as a think tank analyst. Lawrence has been Chief Financial Officer of several growth-stage and publicly traded manufacturing companies and managed all financial reporting, internal control, and external compliance efforts with regulatory agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Lawrence has also served as the senior appointee to the Nevada State Controller’s Office, where he oversaw the state’s external financial reporting, covering nearly $10 billion in annual transactions. During each year of Lawrence’s tenure, the state received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

From 2008 to 2014, Lawrence was director of research and legislative affairs at Nevada Policy and helped the institute develop its platform of ideas to advance and defend a free society.  Lawrence has also written for the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, with particular expertise in state budgets and labor economics.  He was delighted at the opportunity to return to Nevada Policy in 2022 while concurrently serving as research director at the Reason Foundation.

Lawrence holds an M.A. in international economics from American University in Washington, D.C., an M.S. and a B.S. in accounting from Western Governors University, and a B.A. in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  He lives in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Carson Hayek and Sage Aynne.