James Bagwell: Participate in mapping Carson City’s financial future
October 16, 2013
Is it time for some serious introspect in Carson City? My gut feeling is we are not on a course that leads us to a place of governmental financial health, business prosperity or domestic peace. Not peace as opposed to war, but peace as in tranquility in our daily lives.
Our leaders seem hell-bent on spending our city into oblivion. Can we be all things to all people? This is not unique to Carson City. We have watched a few major cities around the U.S. experience the inability to pay their debts and file for bankruptcy. Only a few short years ago one of our own experienced the inability to pay its debts and the state of Nevada had to manage Ely and White Pine County back into financial solvency.
At every turn the city wants to provide services and benefits that were unheard of in our early existence. Unless I missed something in civics class many years ago, I thought government existed to provide for those things I could not provide for myself. It stands to reason we need public safety, roads, sewer and infrastructure. We can't pay for those types of things individually, so we pool our financial resources to be able to enjoy the benefits of living in a close community. The question is, do we need to build or fund every desire of any segment of our community, regardless of benefits?
We need to be supportive of our neighboring communities, but at what cost? Can we afford to build water projects that other communities get more out of than we do? Did we break even financially when we floated a bond for the Virginia and Truckee Railroad project? We need to define what we can provide other communities and their responsibility to assist in the costs of any further projects we do in concert. Simply being the big dog in the area doesn't mean we always pick up the tab.
Without protest, I hope, you will agree that we are at or near the bottom of the financial barrel. Without belaboring the point, we have increased taxes to near the maximum along with every other source of potential revenue. We have eighth-cent sales tax still available, but I suggest it be saved as a rainy day or dire emergency fund given that our rainy-day fund has long ago evaporated. Maybe it won't rain again, but I'm not willing to take that chance.
It is time for the "people" to re-engage in their local government. A city is only as vibrant as the smallest parts of it, and that is the individual. We will never agree on everything, but we should be able to take part in setting the vision of what we may be in the future. Together we need to set "our" vision, not be told by staff what is good for us. I would rather go somewhere with my taking part than be told where to go.
Jim Bagwell of Carson City is a Vietnam veteran and graduate of the FBI National Academy who worked 31 years in law enforcement. He and his wife, Lori, own Charley's Grilled Subs.