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Reader Polls Feedback -
Reader Poll for May 15, through May 24, 2004

Question

Water is becoming an even more important commodity in Las Vegas as we head into the summer heat. Lake Mead is down 57% and it is estimated water will need to be purchased from surrounding farmers or other means to generate the supply. They have suggested taxing tourists, additional room taxes, destination tax for air fare for visit visitors, and many other ideas. What do you think, should be a way to bring more water to Las Vegas users? Is this a problem of the 30+ million visitors to Las Vegas or the 1.3 million people that live here? WHY or Why Not?

Answer our reader Poll, win 2 free $40+ Show tickets! Each Reader Poll.  The 3 best replies each week will receive two $40+ show tickets absolutely FREE! The 3 winners will be selected by Richard Reed, IVLV owner.)

Reader Poll Replies:

*  Obviously this is a very important issue.  I don't believe it would be fair to pass all of the costs to tourist, however we do use water while there and should be willing to pay a small surcharge for that privilege.  I believe there should be a small surcharge to each resident's water bill also. With 30 million visitors each year and 1.3 million residents, calculated proportionately it shouldn't be a hardship for anyone.  Frankie Bray

*  We (meaning visitors) spend enough money and lose enough money when we visit to more than cover the cost of the water we are using when we are there. The people who move to the Las Vegas area from other states are planting grass and trees to make their yards look more "home-like". They could save water by having desert plants and not watering grass every day!  Linda Rebro  Milwaukee, WI

* I think that the tourist could afford a SMALL tax in order to insure we see the wonderful sights, and have enough quality drinking water while there.  Gary Burns

*  Las Vegas waste a lot of water. Stop wasting it and you would have all you need.  G J Smith

*  Las Vegas was created to bring in tourists to the city. We pay enough to get there, stay there and gamble there. Our money keeps property taxes down, supplies jobs and keeps Nevada free from an income tax. To tax tourists more because of a water shortage will curtail visitors. Without us, Vegas will return to the desert from which it began. Enough on charging tourists for water!  Sheri Randazzo

*  Hi, Richard, As an infrequent visitor, the notion of an across-the-board room or destination tax paid by tourists to support the water shortage rubs me the wrong way.  During our visits, I've observed a big difference between properties in their usage of water.  For instance, the Bellagio and other hotels who have outdoor fountains or pools that must evaporate at a rapid rate, and therefore require more water to operate, should be responsible for a greater share of the water usage fees.  It would then be up to those hotels to encourage less water usage, or pay a higher rate.  Likewise, visitors to those properties would be willing to pay more for pools and outdoor water usage.  As a visitor who doesn't care about fountains or pools or indoor canals, I wouldn't be happy about paying a surcharge for water.  I am, however, happy to re-use my towel or not require a change of sheets for a short stay.  Julie Glass  Cincinnati, OH 

*  Hello.  Water is a commodity anywhere you go now. Especially clean water.  Instead  of raising any new taxes or fares.  We should consider that for several years now we have been paying a tax charge for California's electricity shortage. We divert that tax which is all ready in place to pay for the Nevada's water shortage, and just say hasta la vista baby to California and let Arnold come up with a solution. Shirley Reed-Vazquez 

*  Las Vegas, as well as most of the southwestern US, is an arid territory with too little rain fall to support the luxurious lifestyle we try to maintain.  Water is a critical necessity to sustain life.  Backyard swimming pools, fancy fountains, and lush green lawns with water from wasteful sprinklers running down the gutters are fine if the water is available.  But it is not!.  The existing laws must be strengthened, and enforced.  With the rapid increase in population in the area, even on extremely crowded weekends and holidays, the "locals" outnumber the visitors.  Restrictions on water usage are a looming fact throughout the world and the extravagant waste we have enjoyed in the past can not continue for long.  Desert landscaping, after all the area is a desert, and increased restrictions on wasteful practices must be enforced.  Irrigation can be augmented by use of the affluent from treatment plants and use of more efficient practices.  Water conservation is a major concern from the headwaters of the Colorado river to the Gulf of California, aka known as the Sea of Cortez. Harold

*  I do not feel Las Vegas should add on an additional tax for water shortage.  Visitors are still paying for the energy tax on their hotel bills, per day.  I believe that the hotels should absorb the cost for this.  These hotels make millions each year off the tourists.  You keep taxing the tourists they won't be able to afford to come to Las Vegas.  People are already paying more in air fare since the increase of the cost of gas.  So I say let the hotels absorb the cost.  JDault

*  Hello, My husband and I are frequent visitors to Las Vegas, on a recent trip of two weeks ago we visited some new homes as a prospective retirement location.  They are not allowing green grass anywhere with the purchase of their homes.  This saves water.  Perhaps a tax cut should be given to all home owners that have established lawns etc, if they changed their landscaping to natural rocks, cactus etc, in keeping with the natural desert  and therefore sprinkler and drip systems could be shut off, thus helping the situation for the entire state.  To pass on a tax to visitors is only going to send gamblers to another state and perhaps decrease their visits to LV.  We love Vegas, however, living on the east coast we also have Atlantic City, and therefore we will visit there more frequently. Thank You Janice

*  Las Vegas should be monitoring it's growth and not allowing new construction if water is going to be a problem. It is the fastest growing community in the US. It's not fair to charge tourists who are only in town a few days. Las Vegas makes enough money off of us. Lynne - West Allis, WI

*  Richard:  Two issues:  Supply, and Demand.   The supply from Lake Mead obviously will not be sufficient for all persons with water rights, particularly with the normal usage rate.  Buying water "credits" from farmers who can let their patch of desert lie fallow this year rather than raising their stunted alfalfa, will no doubt add to the increase in beef prices.   This is a tricky issue because everyone has rights to a dwindling supply due to the environment having first claim to the flow on the Colorado.  Just like the "rights" granted to our Klamath basin farmers, as well as your farmers in Fallon, Parker, and Needles, prior to 1905 there was no such right to farm arid desert.  Although there are three generations of sand farmers, it was an experiment, that now shows signs of becoming a failure.  In addition, as you have suggested, 1,300,000 people living in a valley formerly home to Rattlesnake, Gila lizards and Yucca plants places a tremendous burden on any infrastructure.  A constant supply of clean water is necessary to sustain life, anywhere you go.  Industry consumes its share.  The resident populace takes a percentage for watering their lawns, flushing toilets, and laundry.  And the entertainment industry uses massive amounts for display, as well as sanitation, comfort, and consumption.  The hotel rooms for years now have their little signs posted to let you help conserve water by reusing your towels, and not requiring your bed be changed daily.  The restaurants have asked you to help out by not asking for ice water at the tables.  Low-volume toilets have been installed everywhere, requiring a "double-flush" on occasion.  Air conditioning uses large amounts of water in their chillers and humidifiers to keep the casinos and hotels habitable.  Outdoor water features cause large amounts of evaporation.    But the farmers are also not blameless, the common method of water distribution being to flood a field.  Evaporation from the reservoirs is a measurable loss.  The once freely flowing Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is a long green algae pond.  Someone finally noticed that there was barely a trickle making it to Mexico, which has totally disabled any previous migration of fish.  So, since a miracle solution to the rate of consumption is still years away, buying more water rights to the dwindling supply is the only way Las Vegas will get by the next few years.  The only palatable method of financing this will be to tax a lot of things a little bit, things that residents will use as well as tourists.  Perhaps a "Temporary Water Surcharge" added to sales tax, room tax, car rental tax, airport landing tax, telephone long-distance tax, boosting everything you buy a tiny bit, making it a profitable but barely noticeable bite.  Otherwise, if the state insists on burdening the gamblers and tourists, you may see an increasing proportion being shouldered by the locals as the visitors find other things to do.  Don Bartley

*  Regardless of how negligible the tourist tax would be, it will result  in a loss of tourists into Vegas (or less of an increase of new visitors), who would choose to gamble or spend elsewhere; those individuals going elsewhere for, say, a $10 surcharge are taking their hotel, entertainment, and gambling dollars somewhere else multiplying the effect of the surcharge on your tourism industry. Perhaps a less visible surcharge such as a miniscule percentage reduction in gambling payoffs would be more tolerable; or a surcharge to the industry itself (hotels, water users, etc), that would surely be charged back to the tourists, might be more tolerable. But what is the intent of the water tax? Is it to discourage usage, if so, a negligible tax won’t work. Or is it to generate funds to buy water elsewhere. if available and at what cost? If it is the latter, Vegas could be setting itself up to be dependant on water merchants ala OPEC. Thanks for listening.  Jim Kulbacki

*  I reside in Southern California and completely understand the impact that water shortage can cause. The taxing of tourists, additional room taxes or destination tax may appeal to the residents of Las Vegas, but the backlash this could cause may not be worth the savings.  During the electrical energy shortages, there was a surcharge placed on rooms. This additional fee did not sit well with a most of the fellow Las Vegas visitors I spoke with.  As a repeat "customer" to the fine city of Las Vegas, any additional taxation will either cause me to visit less frequently or change my spending habits during my visitations. The monies I spend on entertainment, food, services, and gaming are perceived as having some value. If I am being charged for water I see flowing through open air fountains, pirate battles, golf courses (huge waste) and wastefully going down streets; my perception of what I am receiving does not equate to the same entertainment/vacation value.  There is a big tax system difference between California and Nevada. The tourist trade adds a lot to the Las Vegas economy. If the city wants the visitors to supplement and carry the burden of the water shortage; it might be wise to remember who already contributes to the infrastructure and economy of the town. While Las Vegas is a wonderful destination to visit, play and conduct business, it is also not the only place in Nevada that offers Resort/Casino facilities. There is Reno, Tahoe or Laughlin. Factor in the competition of the Indian based resorts and it should be obvious that Las Vegas does not have a lock on the tourist market.  Since Las Vegas has experienced such a rapid growth in their population, perhaps it should be time for them to do something about taking care of themselves.  Thank you for your time,  James Partlow

* Hey here's a radical idea...  Why don't we stop nuclear waste from being put in Yucca Mountain a tap into the giant water table it sits on!!  That's just 90mi from Vegas I bet we can build a pipeline from there to here...  The EPA's own website states the following: "The proposed repository sits above an aquifer that is an important resource for the area surrounding Yucca Mountain. The aquifer is being used as a source of drinking water, as well as for irrigation for crops and farmland. In the future, the aquifer could supply water to many more people in the surrounding areas."  hmmm sounds good to me!  Or if that's too hard to do for some stupid reason we could always go back to the old plans of floating an iceberg down from Alaska!  Jeremy

*  I don't think they should tax the tourists to help supply Las Vegas with water.  We are already overtaxed and leave tons and tons of money in Vegas when we head home.  Airfare to Vegas is $200.00 plus for me, then I spend quite a bit of money on a hotel room that I am only in for 6 hours in any 24 hours (1 hour to unwind, 4 hours to sleep, and 1 hour to get up, get showered, dressed, and hit the strip).   The tourists eat, drink, shop, shop, shop and gamble, gamble, gamble.    Vegas has tons of money as is reflected by the glitz and glamour of the strip hotels, resorts, and casinos.  I think the 1.3 million people who live in Vegas and use their resources on a daily basis should pay increased taxes to provide for their own water or have the casinos pay an extra tax on their winnings to cover the water - not the tourists.  Shawn Fechner  San Antonio, Texas

*  I was in Vegas 30 days on 3 trips last year for both business and pleasure.  I see over watered lawns with water running down the street, day or night.  I see waste by business, tourist and residents.  What ever happened to paying for what you use?  Just add the cost per unit on to the water bill.  Business and residents that conserve pay less of an increase. Businesses and residents that waste pay more of an increase.  The tourists pay their part because the businesses they use will add the cost to the bill. Doug Shields

* The problem and the solution to the water shortage should be shared between the residents and the visitors to Las Vegas. Since Las Vegas has no income tax, inheritance tax, gift tax, etc., an increase in the sales tax of up to .5% would seem the fairest solution to help alleviate the financial burden of the water shortage problem. Visitors would share in this tax while visiting and this should have only a negligible effect upon the tourism industry. This tax should be a unique tax in that it MUST truly be a temporary tax and end as soon as the drought ends. The income tax increase should be coupled with a major push on voluntary conservation. Hotels should place signs such as, "Leave your towels hung on the towel bar if you would like to reuse them and thus help conserve our precious water supply," and, "Please limit your shower to the shortest possible time in order to conserve our water and keep your hotel costs reasonable." Residents would be encouraged to cut down on lawn watering and car washes as well as water efficient showers and toilets. Finally, a contest should be run for the public to come up with creative and useful ways to cut down on water usage and these should would be shared with the community and visitors via e.g. billboards.  Mike T.

*  I believe this is an issue of both the tourists and the population of Las Vegas. Both are using the area's resources, both should assume the responsibility. A higher tax on hotel rooms, in my opinion, would be the easiest solution. By the time a party decides on a hotel room, they are intent on booking this room, no matter what the additional taxes may be. Hotel rooms also seem to be the largest and most constant source of revenue for the city, so it could be easily predicted how much income the city would receive from the tax increase.  Alison Scoble

 

 

 

 

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