Carson City Board of Supervisors tentatively raise property tax
February 16, 2017
The Board of Supervisors tentatively set a new property tax rate for Carson City for the fiscal year starting in July.
On Thursday, the supervisors voted 4-1 to bump up the rate 5 cents to $3.57 per $100 of assessed value.
Supervisor John Barrette voted no, saying visitors should shoulder tax increases, not property owners who are invested in the community.
Supervisor Brad Bonkowski said the rate had dropped over recent years and Carson City had the 12th lowest rate in the state at the current $3.52.
"A nickel is a good balance affecting the least amount of people," said Bonkowski.
Nancy Paulson, chief financial officer, said the increase would primarily affect new construction.
Many existing homeowners wouldn't see any increase because the rate hike would reduce their abatement, not increase their tax bill.
A Carson City property owner's tax can't rise more than 2.6 percent a year, regardless of the growth in the assessed value of the property.
So if an increase in a property's assessed value would push up the tax 5 percent, for example, the property owner pays 2.6 percent more than the previous year and the remainder is abated.
Some would see a modest bump. A home assessed at $250,000, for example, would see its tax move up $44, from $3,080 to $3,124.
The rate is tentative. The city is required to provide a proposed rate to the Nevada Department of Taxation by Feb. 20 so the state can make its budget projections.
The supervisors will vote on the final rate when they approve the city's 2017-2018 fiscal budget, scheduled for May.
If raised, the nickel will be earmarked for the city's asset management program.
The new program is taking an inventory of the city's myriad assets, from buildings to park playgrounds, to better plan maintenance and replacement.
The supervisors also voted 4-1 to maintain an ending general fund balance of 8.33 percent and directed staff to look into issuing 10-year bonds to help fund capital improvements rather than eat into the ending fund balance.
"We worked very hard over the last few years to get to 8.3 percent, which is one month's expenses," said Bonkowski. "We should have a minimum of one month's cash on hand."
Barrette cast the no vote.
The board voted unanimously to apply an estimated $715,000 in additional revenue at the landfill to its capital improvement program, saving 10 percent of it to finance the landfill's closing decades from now.
Nick Marano, city manager, said the cost estimate to close the landfill is $9 million in today's dollars.
The city once set aside money for the landfill closing but during the economic downturn the funds were used on city operations.
The board also discussed an encroachment permit policy now being drafted.
The permit would allow businesses to use some public right of ways for outdoor seating, in the case of a restaurant, or merchandise displays for retailers.
City staff have been working on it with input from downtown businesses, and Stan Jones, owner, Purple Avocado, Mark Schmidt, manager, Carson Jewelry & Loan, and Mike Riggs, president, Downtown Business Association. All spoke in favor of the policy and process during public comment.
Much of the discussion by the supervisors concerned McFadden Plaza and how to balance the needs of the public and the private businesses there.
One question is whether to reduce the right of way encroached on when special events bring more people downtown, but businesses pay property tax on the right of the way they utilize.
The board also discussed changes to the city's liquor ordinance, which has to be rescheduled to be heard by the Liquor and Entertainment Board before the supervisors can vote on it.
The main changes involve allowing for review of liquor license applications by a hearings officer, exempting wholesale dealers from background checks and for the selling, serving and dispensing of alcohol within the public right of way adjacent to a business holding a valid liquor license with an encroachment permit.
In other business: Changes to the city's nuisance ordinance — adding residential motels and detailing enforcement procedures — were heard on first reading, and abandonment of a right of way on Hemlock Street, between Silver Sage Drive and Center Drive, was tabled until staff could contact nearby property owners and discuss it with them.
The 60 by 509 foot strip of land which was never installed as a road is being divvied up between the adjacent property owners, who will be charged property tax on it.
The owners were notified twice but the supervisors decided further contact was needed so the owners understood the situation.
Weather conditions were also discussed and Nick Marano, city manager, is concerned about some local roadways if the storm expected Sunday brings rain instead of snow.
"I'm really worried about the upper part of Kings Canyon Road, above Longview (Way)," Marano told the Board of Supervisors Thursday. "It could wash out."