Carson City capital project proposals got the green light as a city sales-tax increase won final approval Thursday, but not before future maintenance cost issues were raised.
Voting 4-1, the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance raising the sales tax by one-eighth of a penny. That amounts to $12.50 more out of pocket for each $10,000 of taxable goods a consumer buys.
Before the board tally, which mirrored the results of a preliminary vote during a previous meeting, Lori Bagwell intervened to raise the maintenance-cost questions during a public-comment period.
“In its plan of expenditure, Carson City has anticipated the annual maintenance costs for the corridor and downtown projects to be $250,800,” said the businesswoman and Ward 3 candidate for the Board of Supervisors. She said businesses involved deserve to know more details.
“Will the businesses be charged cost allocation or to pay for various city services?” Bagwell asked.
She also asked what mechanism would be used to allow businesses to opt in or out.
Interim City Manager Marena Works said the process must be worked out going forward.
Bagwell suggested that none of the $17 million in bonds for the projects be issued, despite passage of the tax hike, at least until the maintenance-cost questions are resolved.
Doreen Mack, also a businesswoman and the founder of the Downtown 20/20 group that helped spur the plan, rose after Bagwell’s appearance to say this was the culmination of a three-year process and urged the board to act.
“It’s very important that we do something, and that we start now,” she said.
Supervisor Jim Shirk, the dissenting voter, said during the testimony that he didn’t know how the maintenance matter would fly if businesses were going to be asked to pay for something they may not have wanted or sought. He also said he was being consistent by casting his vote on the negative side, but added he wants to be involved with the majority in fashioning details of the projects going forward.
Among the projects are street-scape and related enhancements on Carson Street downtown, and to the north and south on that main street, as well as on East William Street/U.S. Highway 50 to the east. Others are a multipurpose athletic center (MAC), an animal shelter and some improvements geared for cultural events at the community center.
A supermajority, or four supporters, was required for the tax hike, and those favoring moving to the next steps were Mayor Robert Crowell and supervisors Brad Bonkowski, Karen Abowd and John McKenna. McKenna earlier had called unsuccessfully for a vote of the people on the matter up until the crucial votes in late February and Thursday. McKenna is the supervisor from Ward 3 and seeks re-election.
He asked Works to detail for public consumption steps in the process that staffers will take and how long it will be before people learn what that process entails. She said point people from the staff will be designated soon for overall work and each project. Some matters will start becoming clearer before mid-year, Works said.
“They should hear by June, if not before,” she said.
The MAC facility and downtown street-scape proposals have been on the community’s radar for years, so planning for them is further along than for the others. Plans for the animal shelter, along with private-sector partner fundraising for the shelter, have been in the works awhile but are less complete, while the business-corridor improvements outside the downtown and any community center upgrades are still in the early stages.