Storey County Taxable Sales Figures Drop (Opinion)

Tesla's Gigafactory outside of Reno. Image: Bob Conrad.
Tesla’s Gigafactory outside of Reno. Image: Bob Conrad.

Guest opinion by Sam Toll

The Nevada Department of Taxation released the monthly report on taxable sales from around the state. While Nevada continues to mark healthy gains across the state, Storey County’s numbers continue to plummet. Taken as a whole, Storey County taxable sales numbers reveal a marked slowdown at TRIC.

At the December 4th Storey County Commission meeting, Commissioner Marshall McBride told the audience, “if you aren’t moving forward, you are moving backward.”

He used this quip as part of his justification to funnel $22 million dollars of future tax revenue to Google, Switch, Tesla and other land developers re reimburse them for the Effluent Pipeline they are building. New Taxable Sales data show Storey County is stuck firmly in backward.

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State and County officials point to the 1.6 billion dollars generated in Fiscal Year 2016-2017 as evidence that the $1.2 billion Tesla tax abatements were paying real dividends. With Tesla generating global interest in Storey County, other companies followed Elon Musk to the desert east of Reno. But the amazing growth at TRIC Tesla spawned seems to have slowed to a trickle.

As we reported in September, the year-end figures from FY17-18 were down 20% or $332 million dollars compared with the record sales generated in FY16-17. The first three months of FY18-19 are half what they were last year or down over $162 million. With September’s numbers in the books, we mark our 8th consecutive drop in taxable  sales.  September’s figures are 65% lower than last year.

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Zip Code Fixed

In October, the United States Postal Service created a zip code for TRIC. County leaders have complained for years that Washoe County enjoys an unfair revenue advantage. This is because some taxable sales are credited to Sparks as all of TRIC has a Sparks Zip Code. Sales generated at TRIC will be properly credited to Storey County with this new Zip Code.

While Commissioner McBride and Commissioner McGuffey think it’s a good idea to gamble away our future, The Tellerdoesn’t agree. The Stock Market is finally starting to behave like it did before the Federal Reserve began playing God with the economy. We are two consecutive interest rate hikes away from another recession. In light of this data, our leaders should be preparing for the coming slowdown. Yet when I told them about these numbers at the podium at the last meeting, they appeared genuinely surprised.

The slowdown at TRIC is in full swing and the County is pinning its hopes and our future on a mysterious company whose existence is the result of gambling on cryptocurrency. Storey County is home to Blockchains CEO Jeffrey Burns who is making global news by pitching a blockchain innovation center and a 10,000 inhabitant smart city. With Lance Gilman at the marketing helm of Blockchains, this could be another opportunity for Storey County Taxpayers to help Mr. Gilman make even more money.

Looks like Storey County may be in for some rough sledding.

Sam Toll is editor of The Storey Teller.

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