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Brothels, entertainment venue asking Elko City Council for relief
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Brothels, entertainment venue asking Elko City Council for relief

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Elko's brothels are asking the city to waive half of their licensing fee for 2020 due to the state-mandated closure of their businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ELKO – Brothels in Elko and The Stage Door Elko bar and entertainment venue will be asking the Elko City Council Tuesday for emergency relief on fees because of the financial toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on their businesses.

The council will consider the requests at its 4 p.m. meeting to be held at the Elko Convention Center instead of as a virtual meeting. Elko City Clerk Kelly Wooldridge said the meeting is at the center “so we can do social distancing and still have the public.” There also is a call-in number, 775-777-0590, and the meeting will be streamed.

Emily Anderson, one of the owners of The Stage Door Elko, asked that the quarterly liquor license fee due on June 30 be waived. Her request is a separate agenda item from the one on the brothels.

“Obviously, all businesses are hurting and impacted right now. Additional fees to operate are hitting everyone especially hard,” Anderson said.

“We still have not been able to open our doors. We are classified as an entertainment venue, and we are still trying to work out the details of opening with the new guidelines in place regarding capacity and live theater events,” she wrote to Wooldridge.

Anderson said The Stage Door Elko is not allowed to put on theatrical productions but is hoping the restriction will be lifted on June 30.

The owners of the brothels, Louis Goldberg of Mona’s Ranch and Inez’s D&D Bar, George Tate of Sue’s Fantasy Club, and Kathleen Ornelas of Desert Rose, requested relief for brothel license fees due June 30 in advance for July 1 through Dec. 31.

“They have all called me making the request,” Wooldridge said via email Monday.

Under the COVID-19 restrictions, brothels have been closed, and Gov. Steve Sisolak’s May 28 directive stated that they must remain closed during the second phase of the reopening plan for Nevada’s economy. This directive continues through June 30, unless the governor extends it or allows openings prior to the end of the month, the council agenda states.

The council can provide relief to businesses with an emergency ordinance that does not require a public hearing, according to City Attorney David Stanton. He told the council about the steps it could take at its April 14 meeting, and the first such ordinance was approved on April 28.

That action allows businesses to push back payment of water bills at the request of Elko motels that have suffered low occupancy rates during the COVID-19 restrictions. The ordinance applies to any business — not just motels — that holds a business license in the city and is a deferral of water bills, not a waiver. The charges still must be paid later.

According to the council agenda for the June 9 meeting, The Stage Door Elko is required to pay its liquor license fee for the third quarter by June 30 and had already paid for this second quarter of the calendar year, but shut down due to the restrictions.

Anderson is seeking a waiver for the third quarter of the calendar year or a credit for the second quarter for the liquor license.

Brothels are seeking relief on their brothel license fees that total $6,500 per year per brothel. The break sought would be for a half year, or $3,250, due on June 30, Wooldridge said.

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