First of all, no, hotel taxes belong to Clark County residents, just like any other kind of taxes — once they’re paid to the county treasury, you can use them for anything you want. (And it’s not like even taxes on out-of-towners are free money: If you raise them too high, visitors start staying away from town.)
Scottsdale plays this game, too. As summed up in the immortal words of city council member (and Wells Fargo banker…city council jobs were part-time positions before the dark side figured out they needed better representation) Linda Milhaven, Scottsdale’s bed tax, “…is not taxpayer money. It’s funds raised by the tourism industry, to be spent to benefit the tourism industry.” [I paraphrase, but if that’s not 100% accurate, it’s pretty darned close]
That rationale has been used in Scottsdale to justify taxpayer-funded subsidies to the PGA, Phil Mickelson, the Super Bowl, rugby scrums and polo matches (the latter two promoted by Mayor Jim Lane’s campaign PR manager, Jason Rose). Yet, we just BORROWED (via bonds) $12.5 million to patch potholes. In SCOTTSDALE!
Source: Vegas area residents don’t want to give any tax money to Raiders stadium, let alone $950m | Field of Schemes
Following Milhaven’s logic, sales tax on food sold at grocery stores are also not taxpayers’ funds. They should be controlled by Fry’s, Basha’s and Safeway.
Sales tax on cars are not Taxpayers’ funds, they should be controlled by Schumacher Mercedes and the Bentley dealers.
Tax receipts are fungible unless they are specifically set aside by the taxing legislation – example being the Highway Trust Fund that is generated by tax on fuel.
Unless there is a set-aside provision in the Hotel Tax Milhaven is lying.
Thanks for your comment, Mike! Part of the contrivance we call the bed tax goes to the city’s portion of CVB funding. The other big piece, however, is “destination event marketing.” Therein lies the graft.
The million dollar Super Bowl party subsidy, and money gifted to mayor Jim Lane’s campaign PR manager Jason Rose for his polo matches are two very good examples. This money is given away with no public bid process, and no expectation of any objective measurement of taxpayer benefit. Both of these conditions violate the principles of procurement, the city’s procurement code, the city charter, and the state constitution’s gift clause.