Let's vote on drainage fee

The question is not so much whether Carson City needs to raise revenue to pay for storm drainage, but how much we will pay and on what basis.

City officials are in the midst of figuring out the best way to institute a fee, so nothing is set in concrete so far, including the two main issues - how much and who pays what.

We believe residents will be willing to pay to protect their property from the catastrophe of floods, but only if they're treated fairly.

That means, first, they must be allowed to vote on any storm-drainage fee.

The worst thing the city could do is simply impose a payment schedule without getting the approval of residents.

Having a vote will ensure the second most-important thing happens: Fees are distributed evenly according to value and risk.

Should the owner of property on the east side of Carson City, in areas that wouldn't flood in 1,000 years, be charged anything near to the cost that west side, canyon-dwelling property owners pay? Of course not.

Fire districts realize the difference in risk to homes in the wooded hills of the Sierra Nevada and those sitting in the treeless desert. So should a storm-drainage utility.

The same argument holds true for the value of property. Fees should be based, like property taxes, on the value of the land and improvements.

While it may be unnecessarily cumbersome to set up a drainage-control district, Carson City officials should approach the issue with the same kind of process in mind.

Get the votes. Charge according to risk and value. Be specific about the projects that the money would fund.

With those concerns sufficiently addressed, residents will be able to support a storm-drainage program that will protect their homes, families and businesses.


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