The Board of Supervisors on Thursday approved a 0.5 percent increase in the city’s electric utility franchise fee, raising it from 4.5 percent to the maximum 5 percent allowed by law.
The fee in an $80 monthly electric bill will rise from $3.60 to $4.
City Finance Director Nick Providenti told board members at the previous meeting that they were pretty much committed to the increase because they had previously told city staffers to raise the rate.
Deputy Finance Director Nancy Paulson repeated that before Thursday’s vote. She said the increase is effective Oct. 1 and that it should generate $240,000 over the remaining three quarters of this fiscal year.
Supervisors were told cutting that money from the budget would either bring the city’s ending fund balance below the state-mandated 5 percent or force further city staffing and service cuts.
The vote was 4-1, with Jim Shirk opposed. He said afterward he didn’t think the money should go toward salaries.
The 5 percent rate puts the electric fee in line with other franchise fees the city charges for services including telephone and cable TV.
There was some discussion at the previous meeting about restoring the current rate once the city’s finances recover from the recession. Supervisor John McKenna said some residents had called him saying their pensions and other income sources weren’t going up. Providenti told them they could restore the current rate if they see enough improvement in the economy and city revenues.
In addition, the board approved the final step in a complex land trade with the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service that effectively transfers ownership of some 3,600 acres in the capital district to Carson City.
Open Space Manager Juan Guzman told the board that includes Prison Hill, Ambrose and the Silver Saddle Ranch.
The final piece of the deal was the approval of giving $375,000 to the Bureau of Land Management to monitor how the city handles the property. Guzman said that bill is being paid for out of the more than $1 million BLM paid the city for property transferred to the federal government.
Parks and Recreation Director Roger Moellendorf said after the meeting that, under the agreement, the property will remain as open space.