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Mesquite, NV City Staff Undecided on Fiscal Impact of Smoking Ban

On June 13, 2018, Mesquite, Nevada city employees submitted to the City Council their description of anticipated financial effects if a clean indoor ordinance is passed by voters.

According to Barbara Ellestad, a smoker, reporting in the Mesquite Local News (MLN) the city loses a fortune if voters pass an ordinance banned smoking.  I checked the report.

The staff actually reported (see below) that the initiative could result in a loss of $(3,675,116) or a maximum gain of $3,675,116.  That is consistent with the assertion that nobody knows the impact of the Mesquite Clean Air Initiative.

Of course, the City Councilmen think they know. Dave Ballweg puts the lose at $2.5 million.  Councilman George Rapson says, “I do believe there will be a financial impact and it won’t be a good one  on property tax revenues.” Councilman Brian Wursten knows because he worked installing gaming machines at a non-smoking facility.  He claims first hand experience on the nonsmoking issued.  “We could lose residents who move out of the city because of this new law,” he asserts.

Nonetheless, Mesquite City Staff, to their credit, basically said: We have no idea. We could lose up to $3,675,116 or something in-between.  Or we could earn $3,675,116 or something in-between.

The staff did report that it would cost between $10,000 and $15,000 to put the issue on the ballot and a new city employee valued at about $100,000 may be necessary to enforce the law. I do not know about the need for a new employee, but it would cost something to put the initiative on the ballot. That cost is easily offset by gains in revenue or increased health care savings that allow people to live, enjoy life and pay taxes.

For months, if not years, the Mayor and City Council were warned about the dangers of smoking in casinos.

They were told of findings that show Mesquite residents will save 13.3 million over five years (2.6 million annually) if the city passes a comprehensive clean indoor air ordinance.

Unfortunately, health savings were deemed out of scope by city staff because “it did not relate directly to the financial impact.”  I contend that at least $2.6 million of the $3. 6 million in increased revenue comes directly from healthier people increasing gaming participation as studies suggest.

A responsible City Council would be shouting from the roof tops for a public vote on this initiative. Instead, the Mesquite City Council obstructs efforts for public voting and spins unverifiable and unreliable yarns of doom.

Fortunately, the City Staff puts it on record that it could be a revenue loss or a revenue gain. They have  no idea.

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About Author

Michael McGreer Mesquite, Nevada
Dr. Michael Manford McGreer is managing editor of Nevada-today.com and writes on issues that impact public policy.

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