Question 1: Higher taxes would enable higher salaries

Victor Joecks

Why do proponents of tax increases so often try to mislead the public?

Are they unaware of the deceptions they promote, or do they think misleading voters is a winning strategy?

In the case of CCSD officials and their push for a property-tax increase, I lean toward the latter; in the case of Steve Sebelius and his push for increasing taxes for the Henderson Libraries, I’m not sure.

From his column today:

Rest assured, this money (higher taxes authorized if Question 1 passes) will not end up in somebody’s pocket: It can only be used for operating expenses, things such as utilities, building maintenance and the like. It won’t be used to give pay increases or hire more employees, although they’re certainly needed.

While what he writes is technically true, the implication is not. Because if this tax increase passes, a portion of the money currently being used to fund operating expenses will be used to “hire more employees” and “can be used to give pay increases.”

As I wrote in October about Question 1:

When I interviewed (Henderson Library Executive Director Thomas) Fay, he insisted that new money raised by the tax increase could not be used for pay increases, but admitted that money currently being used for books and services could be used to fund salary increases.

This is a textbook example of a shell game. If voters approved an additional $1.614 million for services and supplies, there’s no legal prohibition on the Library District using the $1.606 million it spent this year on services and supplies to increase employee wages.

So, the tax increase may not directly fund wage increases, but it will free up funds previously spent on services and supplies to increase salaries and benefits.

It’s easy to deduce that spending this tax increase on salary and benefits is actually the plan, because Fay has said there’s “practically no one to run Malcolm and Galleria (branches).” Since this tax increase is being sold as necessary to keep those branches open, money currently being used for services and supplies will go toward hiring more staff.

In a subsequent article in the Las Vegas Sun, the Henderson Library District admitted that this shell game is indeed the plan.

The district counters that the tax is for maintaining the status quo and the board’s primary goal is to return some of the lost hours and services. If the libraries were to reopen on Mondays, for example, some money not currently spent on salaries would have to be moved.

So my question for Steve Sebelius and other tax-increase supporters is this: Were you fooled, or are you intentionally trying to mislead the public?