Carson Supervisors get first look at next year's budget

Businesses came out against raising Carson City property taxes by 11.7 cents Wednesday during the opening night of city budget discussions.

Carson Area Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Larry Osborne told city supervisors that businesses would support a 3 to 4 cent increase and a raise in business fees.

"We can tighten our belts; we can do that," Osborne said. The chamber understands the city is facing a sizable shortfall, with estimates the budget will be short $1 million this fiscal year and short $2.2 million in the next fiscal year.

Osborne said the chamber was disappointed that some city departments did not offer up the 3 percent cuts in department budgets asked for by supervisors two months ago.

Also, Osborne said he has confidence the city can put their heads together and find a way to balance the budget without making threats to the public about cutting youth sports and other programs.

"We know we'll have to pay more for the quality of life we all enjoy here in Carson City," Osborne said.

"We will work with you," he said, adding he would like to see the city make an effort to cut costs "before you ask taxpayers to shoulder the entire burden."

City finance director David Heath said the city was suggesting the property tax increase as merely one option.

"We don't like it any better than you do," he said.

Eight cents of the proposed property tax increase would generate an estimated $850,000 to pay for capital purchases, like police patrol cars, fire and life safety equipment, a computer system, playground equipment and parking lot maintenance.

The other 3.7-cent increase would go directly into paying for the Silver Springs Regional Juvenile Center.

In looking at other options presented by Heath, Supervisor Pete Livermore said he would like to erase the option to levy a 2.2-cent voter-approved property tax meant to pay for the building of the newest fire station. Voters opted not to enact the levy after it was first approved.

Wednesday's budget hearing was the first of four meetings scheduled in the next week as supervisors pull together next year's financial plan.

They heard from courts, fire, sheriff and emergency management staff about cuts made to individual budgets.

District Courts I and II found ways to cut 28,000 from their budgets. Justice and municipal courts cut up to $37,000 in costs and decided to propose enacting a $10 fee on misdemeanor fines, such as traffic tickets. The fee would generate an estimated $100,000 a year to pay for the debt incurred with the building of the new courthouse.

Supervisors said they may wait to enact the fee until after the current Legislative session, at which another $25 state fee is proposed. If both the city's proposed fee and the state's fee are approved, a $20 ticket would end up costing a violator $70, after administrative fees are added.


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