Mayor’s Race heats up
September 22, 2004
Mayor Ray Masayko says Carson City is in record-breaking, stellar economic shape, but his opponent Marv Teixeira insists the city’s golden years have come and gone.
At a League of Women Voters forum Wednesday night Masayko and Teixeira battled it out over sales tax revenue, water supply problems and the city’s legal costs.
Masayko asserts the city has never seen more riches, while Teixeira gives the impression the city’s retail sales tax coffers are thinning out.
“Carson City is in great economic shape,” Masayko said. “Our prosperity in 2003-2004 has exceeded the highest year by half a million.”
He said sales tax revenue reached $910 million in the 2003-2004 fiscal year, over the city’s record high revenue in fiscal year 2001-2002.
But Teixeira guided voter attention to $20 million the city is down in general sales revenue this fiscal year.
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“I’m disappointed in the lack progress,” Teixeira said. “We can do better.”
Sales tax revenue makes up a sizable chunk – 40 percent – of the city’s budget.
Masayko attributes the $20 million drop to a decrease in auto sales. Auto sales make up over half of the city’s sales tax.
“Auto sales revenues are up and down,” Masayko said dismissively. “Carson City is on the road to greatness.”
Teixeira said large non-auto retailers are also leaving Carson City for Douglas County. Two out of three major furniture dealers left last year.
“That loss of retail could have been stopped,” Teixeira said, promising that if he were mayor, he would sit down with every major retailer to listen to their short and long term goals.
“We used to be the retail center of Carson, Douglas and Lyon Counties.”
Masayko warned his audience of approximately 50 – mostly women – to beware of his opponent’s claims.
“Be careful of campaign promises,” Masayko said. “Retailers have their own issues.”
He said big businesses will not share their strategic plans with government. He says businesses will come to Carson City if local government is “business friendly.”
“We have to cooperate.”
Teixeira also insists he and city staff secured a large portion of the city’s water supply infrastructure during his two terms as mayor from 1989-1996, and implied Masayko is squandering the fruits of his labor by ignoring the gradual deterioration of the city’s water system.
“We bought up water rights and built the Quill Water Treatment Plant,” he said. “It’s sad that now people can’t take a shower when their sprinklers are on. Why weren’t we incrementally raising rates over the years?”
Instead, he said, the city is “Jumping from A to Z” with rate increases, which both candidates agree are necessary to repair existing infrastructure and build new wells.
The city’s recent legal battles were also a point of contention between the candidates.
Masayko, a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative, defended the city’s involvement in recent legal battles, one with construction company American General Development.
The company sued after the city terminated its contract in July 2000 and withheld $328,000 in payments for work already done on an aquatic center. After four years in court, the a jury awarded AGD $281,356 in payments and $32,005 in interest in July.
“Carson City is a very large target and there are people out there who make their living suing government,” Masayko said. “We need to put up a vigorous defense in a lot of these cases, to make certain we are standing up and protecting your wallet. It’s the cost of doing business.”
Teixeira said the city’s legal costs this year – nearly $2.2 million – was frivolous and unnecessary.
“It’s a waste of taxpayer money,” he said. “We never spent that kind of money and it will not happen again.”
Candidates for Ward 2 Supervisor, School Board Trustee Districts 5 and 7 and arguments for and against the storm drainage sales tax ballot question also participated in the three-hour forum. The topics they discussed will be featured in Friday’s paper.
Contact reporter Robyn Moormeister at email@example.com or 881-1217.