Nevada Senate OKs bill to fund Lake Tahoe convention center

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A bill that would add a $5 a night room charge to hotel rooms to help pay for a convention center at Stateline was approved by the Nevada Senate on Monday, April 22.

Last week, Douglas County commissioners debated the bill and voted 3-2 not to oppose it.

The bill allows the tourism surcharge to join two other revenue streams to purchase municipal securities to build the center advocated by the Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority.

Senate Bill 461 only affects Tahoe Township — Douglas County's portion of Lake Tahoe.

Authority President Carol Chaplin said the increase had the full support of the Stateline hotels and both Tahoe and Carson Valley chambers of commerce.

While the bill was filed on Jan. 28, its first reading only occurred March 25, with the second reading April 19. It was read for the first time in the Assembly on Tuesday and referred to the Committee on Government Affairs.

“Things at the Legislature don't move that fast and then they move very, very fast,” Chaplin said of the speed with which the bill was heard.

Commissioner John Engels sought to have the county board oppose the bill.

“This is arrogance on the part of the Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority and supersedes the authority of the county,” he said.

However, Commissioners Barry Penzel, Larry Walsh and Wes Rice voted against the motion, leaving the county's stance neutral.

Engels opposes the use of public money from the redevelopment agency formed at Stateline to build the convention center.

He also sought to oppose a second bill that adds the term multi-use to convention in describing the center.

Penzel said he was disappointed that commissioners found out about the bill at the last minute.

“I'm a little discouraged about the communications aspect,” he said. “This should have been something we should have been made aware of.”

Construction of an all-weather convention center at Lake Tahoe capable of handling large events has been a goal for more than a decade.

Efforts to build a center on the other side of the state line were stopped when California dissolved all of the state's redevelopment areas.

The effort was renewed in Douglas County when commissioners approved a redevelopment district covering Tahoe Township to build the center on vacant land next to MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa.

The redevelopment agency was established by county commissioners.

The county's portion of the $80 million center would be $20-25 million, which would be paid with revenues from the redevelopment area.

Should the center be built, it would be owned and operated by the visitors authority.


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