Supervisors look for ways to pay for transit

It will take an act of the Legislature to give Carson City the power to raise sales or fuel taxes to support transporation programs such as the new Carson to Reno bus route.

Carson City supervisors plan to have a bill draft request ready by the Sept. 1 deadline for cities and counties to submit requests for the 2001 Legislature.

The bus system linking Reno and Carson City began Monday. The tax would pay for continued operations once federal funding stops.

Carson City lobbyist Mary Walker will submit a skeleton request by the deadline and then she and city officials will hammer out the funding source.

In her presentation to supervisors, Walker initially dismissed fuel taxes because of the high price for gasoline. A sales tax increase would generate more money than Carson City needs for transit.

But Mayor Ray Masayko keyed in on the sales tax while supervisors Jon Plank and Kay Bennett also took interest in a fuel tax.

"I don't think I want to go there (fuel tax) right now," Masayko said.

Supervisors may increase sales tax a quarter cent but only for building projects, not the operation of a transit program. The Legislature could allow a change in the law for this specific purpose, Walker said.

Federal grants often pay to start programs, such as the bus. The Reno-Carson bus is budgeted at $450,000 for the first year with federal funds covering $320,000, the Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission supplying $130,000 and Carson City paying nothing.

The federal grant lasts two years and continued operation of the bus could require Carson City to pay into the program. Washoe County uses portions of a quarter-cent sales tax.

"Somewhere, somehow we're going to have to find ongoing revenue to pay our share of the costs of transit," Bennett said.


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