City budget questions addressed
April 3, 2017
Carson City staff on Monday held a public open house to discuss the city's fiscal year 2018 budget with interested residents.
The presentation on the budget was led by Nancy Paulson, chief financial officer, and department heads were available afterward to answer questions and take comments.
About a dozen attendees came to the noon session, most from the Carson City Men's Club, who opted to attend the open house instead of their regular meeting.
"I wanted to find out where our dollars are going and how much it's going to cost," said Ron Roberts, a member of the club. "Especially for seniors, every time there's an increase in government expenditures it impacts us more."
Fellow member Bruce Kittess agreed.
"As senior citizens, it's our responsibility to show up when they do presentations like this," he said.
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Kittess asked if any laws likely to come out of the 2017 legislative session would have an impact on the city budget.
Nick Marano, Carson City manager, said a bill to require body cameras for police, if passed, would require a change in the 911 surcharge charge from 25 cents to $1 a month.
Another bill to allow counties to charge a tax on diesel would raise about $200,000 for the city if it passes.
Fewer people attended the evening session.
Daniel O'Brien, a Carson City resident and the city's Public Works director from 1986-1994, asked about ambulance staffing and response times.
"Firefighters are getting burned out, they're leaving," said O'Brien. "I'm hoping the new fire chief brings it to the attention of the Board of Supervisors."
John Arneson, battalion chief, operations in the Fire Department, said after the meeting that turnover among the city's firefighters is about 10 percent.
Ambulance calls have been increasing about 4 percent a year for the last 10 years, he said, to 10,055 calls in calendar year 2016.
The department is requesting for fiscal year 2018 a basic life support ambulance, for lower level calls that do not require a paramedic, and two full-time employees for it.
The tentative general fund budget for 2018 is projected to be $80.52 million, slightly lower than the current year's estimated $80.89 million.
That includes $1.63 million for capital improvements/extraordinary maintenance, nearly double this year's estimated $879,927.
That money would be coupled with $813,862 from Landfill Capital Improvement/Replacement and $3.57 million from the issuance of 10-year bonds to be repaid with 5 cent property tax for capital projects, for a total of $6.01 million in capital improvement projects.
Those projects could include facilities maintenance at fire stations 51 and 53 and the Carson City Library; new voting equipment; about $1.9 million in information technology upgrades; $180,000 in playground replacements; landfill trucks, transfer station, recycling tanks and retention pond; and about $1.8 million in fleet and radio services.
The city has 40 funds, all restricted to specific revenue sources and specific spending except for the general fund.
The consolidated tax, a combination of six taxes including sales tax, which now funds nearly 40 percent of the general fund, is expected to increase 9 percent in 2017, to $27.1 million, and another 4 percent in 2018 to $28.2 million.
The Carson City Board of Supervisors has tentatively approved a bump in the city's property tax, which funds about 32 percent of the general fund, to $3.57 per $100 of assessed value. That's up 5 cents from the current $3.52.
The fiscal year 2017 total budget was $137.45 million.
The board will take up and approve the budget at several meetings between the end of April and July 1, when the new fiscal year starts.