Carson City questions BLM land sale in Douglas County

Map by Karl HoreisThe purple area in this map shows the Bureau of Land Management Land considered for auction.

Map by Karl HoreisThe purple area in this map shows the Bureau of Land Management Land considered for auction.

Carson City officials said Tuesday they are reserving the option to appeal a U.S. Bureau of Land Management decision to auction 146 acres, much of it ripe for commercial development, in Northern Douglas County.

"We want to postpone the auction from Dec. 10 to a date further out so we can address concerns for both counties and define the impacts," said Carson City Supervisor Robin Williamson.

The land is between Jacks Valley and Carson City on the east side of Highway 395. BLM is scheduled to auction the land Dec. 10, with the opening bid set at $6.5 million.

Williamson said a recent analysis indicates Carson City stands to lose $3.8 million in sales tax revenues from new businesses, as well as those that would migrate from Carson City to the Douglas County location.

The Hobbs, Ong Group was commissioned to review the proposed sale.

"Both Douglas and Carson City have more in common than differences, but sales tax is a big factor," Williamson said. "A portion of the tax revenue we generate goes to Douglas County."

Nevada's tax structure spreads out the tax wealth, doling out money from revenue-rich urban counties to tax-poor rural counties. Carson City exports revenues, while Douglas County imports them.

Under this system, Douglas County would receive an additional $800,000 in sales tax revenues from the sale of the land.

Williamson said Douglas County's master plan for the north valley project does not include low-income housing, further strapping Carson City, which may have to provide housing for the project's retail workers.

If the auction proceeds, the money from the land sale will be used to acquire and preserve about 4,000 acres of agricultural land in Douglas County through the purchase of development rights, Carson City Manager John Berkich said.

It's an action he applauds, but he said it can't be done at Carson City's expense.

"The master plan (for North Douglas County) contemplates the development of hundreds of homes, but doesn't address how services are provided," he said. "We believe Carson City might have to meet those demands."

Williamson agreed, saying the influx of commercial business could result in a bigger demand for services in Carson City without the concurrent rise in sales taxes, which makes up 43 percent of Carson City's budget.

The public auction of federal land to a private buyer may be stalled unless negotiations are fruitful before Dec. 10, according to Mark Struble, BLM public information officer.

Carson City filed its notice of appeal and petition for stay Monday with BLM. It says the sale is based on numerous discrepancies: failure to prepare an environmental impact study; failure to assess the economic, fiscal, air quality, traffic, housing, public service, solid waste disposal and infrastructure impacts to the city; failure to consider open-space benefits; and failure to consider cumulative impacts in association with other developments in the North Douglas County and South Carson City areas.


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