By Daniel Honchariw
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has effectively transformed its More Cops fund into an interest-earning savings account.
This may explain, at least partially, why Metro for the last eight years has not spent the More Cops money it has received from taxpayers on actually hiring More Cops.
An October 2 Las Vegas Review-Journal article highlighted Metro P.D.’s massive, current More Cops account balance.
The article accurately stated that Metro maintains over $100 million in funds earmarked specifically for the hiring of more uniformed police officers — although one might not know it based on the department’s current lobbying for additional revenue streams for that precise purpose.
Since the fund’s 2005 inception, when Metro began receiving the marginal revenues from a .25-pt sales-tax increase (now .3-pt), it has accumulated far more funds than it has spent during each year since.
Just how much has Metro saved each year?
Enough to have earned upwards of $8 million in interest based on 2008’s unused balance alone!
Over time, these earnings add up — to approximately $27.6 million in accumulated interest through 2015.
The fund’s interest earnings over the last decade — based on the amount of funds Metro has saved each year — far exceed the $7.9 million in annual tax revenues the department recently requested to increase staffing levels along the resort corridor.
Interestingly, neither the More Cops fund’s existing balance nor the interest earned on those balances was mentioned during Metro P.D.’s recent plea for more tax revenues.
On September 15, sitting before the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, Sheriff Lombardo publicly projected that his proposed 0.1-pt increase to the sales tax would produce an additional 64 police officers to be stationed within the resort corridor.
The meeting’s official minutes document this projection as follows:
Commissioner Sisolak asks how much money the tax would produce to pay for officers within the Resort Corridor. Mr. Aguero responds the estimate is $7.9 million. Commissioner Sisolak asks how many additional officers the funding would add to the area. Sheriff Lombardo states his estimate is 64.
On its face, this estimate seems reasonable — each additional $1 million can fund about eight new hires at a per-officer price of $125,000 per year.
But if $7.9 million per year is what Metro needs to fund those 64 additional officers, nothing is preventing the department from hiring those officers today.
As noted in the same October 2 Las Vegas Review-Journal article, the fact that Metro is not hiring in the quantities of officers it claims to need has little to do with its underlying financials.