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State lawmakers file legislation to incorporate Laughlin as a city

March 6, 2019

LAUGHLIN – The Nevada State Legislature is taking up the subject of making Laughlin a city

Nevada Senate Bill 213, sponsored by State Sen. Joe Hardy, R-District 12, and co-sponsored by State Rep. Glen Leavitt, R-District 23, was introduced Feb. 18.

It would set up a city government with an elected council composed of a mayor and four council members. Also addressed in the legislation are initial needs such as obtaining key employees, including a city manager and other department heads, as well as how to create a city government budget.

It also describes the proposed area of incorporation. For example, excluded is what the bill describes as the “Hotel Corridor” — where the community’s casino-resorts operate.

Laughlin Town Manager Brian Paulson and Laughlin Town Advisory Board member Jim Maniaci, also president of the Laughlin Economic Development Corporation, had no comment and referred questions about the bill to Hardy.

This method would allow incorporation to occur through the legislative process. Hardy pointed out that there are other ways for a community to become a city through the county or the state, and said doing it this way provides advantages.

“This way we can hear testimony about it. ... We can see where apples and oranges really are,” Hardy said Monday. “This bill will really put feet to fire to see what’s feasible.”

Laughlin voters rejected incorporation in June 2012 by a vote of 962-729 (57 percent to 43 percent).

Hardy described the 2012 effort as not being “a fair representation of Laughlin incorporation” because it didn’t allow voters ample opportunity to review relevant financial information.

Hardy also said it’s possible Laughlin could become a small city without support from the casino-resort industry because there might be enough of a tax base to pay for necessary services.

“Boulder City doesn’t have any casinos,” Hardy explained. It’s supported by other means, such as residents’ property taxes. Boulder City, where Hardy resides, has a population of about 15,000, more than twice that of Laughlin.

He said Laughlin could reap benefits from incorporation. For example, he noted that the community is far away from the Clark County seat in Las Vegas.

“That makes getting things done problematic,” Hardy said. “What is it we can do to have control over our own destiny?”

He pointed out that it might help to encourage further development of empty land in the area, such as the former site of the Mohave Generating Station, which could provide 2,500 acres for commercial and residential development.

That site has been on the real estate market since October 2016.

He said more development would “add to the tax base.”

Leavitt said that incorporation of a Nevada city hasn’t been decided through elections.

“They’re getting a little large to be a township,” Leavitt said. “I think this is a logical step.”

He emphasized that certain services would transition from county to municipal control more slowly than others.

“We’re doing this for (Laughlin’s) benefit,” he said. “It would be good for both the Laughlin area and the state.”

A vocal opponent of incorporation during the most recent effort was Fred Doten, who serves as board chairman of the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce and has been an LTAB member and a past board president.

“I’m against it,” Doten said last week. “We don’t have the money if you take out the casinos.”

The Laughlin Chamber of Commerce likely won’t advocate one way or another on Laughlin incorporation, said Jackie Mazzeo, the chamber’s executive director.

If the incorporation charter is authorized, Clark County still would provide services within the boundaries of the township-turned-city through June 30, 2021. The new city council — with assistance from a charter committee and personnel board — would prepare for the transition of power ahead of that date.

The Nevada Legislature’s website doesn’t list a scheduled time for a committee hearing of SB213.