ELKO – Elko City Council agreed Tuesday to give license-fee breaks to the brothels in the city and to The Stage Door Elko through emergency ordinances due to coronavirus impacts.
The ordinances will come back to the council June 23 for a vote.
The council decided to forgive brothel fees for one quarter of the year, however, rather than six months as brothel owners requested. Brothels generally pay six months at a time, or $3,250 each, but they would pay half of that amount by Sept. 30.
The annual fee for brothel licenses is $6,500.
Brothels were closed March 17 and still have not been allowed to reopen.
Brothel owner Louis Goldberg said they have had “no guidance from the governor,” so they don’t know if they will be allowed to open in the next phase that is scheduled to start June 30.
“This class of business has not been able to open through no fault of their own,” Elko Mayor Reece Keener said, commenting that there haven’t been the usual costs for the Elko Police Department to conduct brothel inspections and issue work permits during the shutdown.
Councilman Bill Hance said at the meeting held at the Elko Convention Center he thought any reduction of brothel fees should be broken down rather than be on a six-month basis.
“That’s what I was thinking, too,” said Councilwoman Mandy Simons, suggesting the fee break for every month they aren’t open, and questioning whether the city could back-date the relief.
Councilman Chip Stone suggested the brothels be credited from March 17 and “see what happens here out,” while Councilman Robert Schmidtlein said he was “on board giving them a quarter or three-month credit moving forward.”
The owners of the legal brothels in Elko, 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.
Although they did not get a six-month break, the brothels will receive help on liquor-license fees, too. The council decided to waive liquor fees for the quarter beginning July 1 and that includes the brothels, although the request for the reduction in liquor license fees came from The Stage Door Elko.
The ordinance that staff will prepare for emergency action allows a break for one quarter of the year on fees for liquor licenses for businesses not allowed to reopen yet. The fee for liquor licenses is $222 per quarter, City Clerk Kelly Wooldridge said.
“Most of the other bars are open again, making money,” said Emily Anderson, one of the owners of The Stage Door Elko, who told the council she was still trying to figure out whether her business would be allowed to open June 30.
She had asked that the quarterly liquor license fee due on June 30 be waived. Her request was a separate agenda item from the one from the brothels.
The council’s decision on the emergency ordinance covers businesses with live entertainment, which includes the brothels and Stage Door. Wooldridge said she couldn’t think of another business where the ordinance would apply.
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