Washoe Voters: Should We Raise Sales Tax To Pay For Schools?

Feb 16, 2016

Credit Alexa Ard

Washoe County voters will see a new ballot question in November, one that could help area schools deal with repairs and overcrowding. A committee voted on that question Friday. Our contributor Bob Conrad of ThisisReno was there has the story.

The Public Schools Overcrowding and Repair Needs committee, created during the last legislative session, was tasked with developing a ballot initiative for school improvements. The committee decided to go with a sales tax increase rather than a combined increase to both sales and property tax.

"In our prior meetings the concerns about the property tax was its impact on the elderly and those folks on a fixed income," Committee Chair Shaun Carey says.

Carey adds that projected growth is compounding already overcrowded schools, a sentiment echoed by County Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler:

"I think most people recognize that the schools are in need of repair,” Berkbigler says. “Most of our schools are 35 years or older. A lot of them has asbestos in them."

If approved by voters, the sales tax would increase from 7.7 percent to about 8.3 percent, making it the highest in the state.