During what would normally be a typical school walk through, Superintendent Traci Davis said her's at Spanish Springs Elementary School Wednesday morning one was a little extra special.
It's a great day to walk in and see an overcrowded school and to know that help is on the way," says Superintendent Davis.
The help she's talking about is money, in the form of a Washoe County sales tax increase. Voters approved a 0.54 percent increase Tuesday pushing the Washoe County sales tax from 7.725% to 8.265% (the highest in Nevada.) County officials say the earliest you will start paying more for items is early 2017. They say they're working out details with WCSD and the State Department of Taxation.
The tax more likely will affect you with a large purchase, like a car. A $3.00 cup of coffee plus tax is $3.23 right now and would increase to $3.25 with the tax increase. Compare that to a $20,000 car; The tax now pushes the price to $21,450 which would go up to $21,653 once the new tax rate is implemented. So the difference could be a couple pennies or a couple hundred dollars, depending on what you're buying.
The extra tax revenue will help repair existing schools and build new ones. The district says it needs $239 million for current repair needs. Then it wants to build an addition to Damonte Ranch High School, a Sun Valley Area Middle School, an Arrow Creek Area Middle School, a Spanish Springs Area Middle School, a Cold Springs Area Middle School, South McCarran/Butler Ranch Area High School, a Wild Creek Area High School to Replace Hugh High School, re-purpose Hug High School, a South Meadows Area Elementary School, and a North Valleys/Spanish Springs Area Elementary School. They are also looking to purchase properties for Sparks High School and build seven elementary schools that should eliminate multi-track/year-round calendar for students.
The head of the opposition, Jeffrey Church says the tax was a "bait-and-switch" because the district said it had a specific need but that the tax increase never expires. He also says the drafting process for the ballot question was biased and violated state law.
"We fought our good battle," says Church "and we'll fight it in the courts and we gave the public the option to decide, but unfortunately the public didn't get the real story."
Superintendent Davis responded to the potential for lawsuits Tuesday night saying she has 65,000 students and the district to take care of and "the lawyers will take care of the rest."