Supervisors approve 4-cent property tax increase to balance budget

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Carson City property owners can expect a tax increase of 4 cents per $100 of assessed value next year, city supervisors decided Thursday.

Supervisors approved the increase, which was substantially less than the 11.7 cents city staff had proposed in March, to help fund the budget for the next fiscal year.

After facing a potential $2.2 million budget shortfall, the decision to raise property taxes came after supervisors examined several ways to reduce spending and increase revenues.

In the end, the board was able to cut capital spending by $450,000 to maintain nearly all current staffing levels, keep the library open Saturdays, and give fire department personnel overtime pay to assist with local events.

During the past month, city departments offered $977,500 in cuts to personnel, equipment, operating, travel and training expenses.

"We all worked together to do what we could to reduce the impact," said Supervisor Robin Williamson.

Supervisors went through their capital spending program, which includes funding new software programs, a dog kennel, new roofs, parking lots, patrol cars and a plan to study the commercial corridor, to find ways to make further reductions.

Mayor Ray Masayko said he could not agree with taking money from city departments to pay for "fairly cotton-pickin' dubious programs, given our financial status."

Supervisors cut funding for a new $265,000 animal control kennel; took half, or $100,000, out of the board's discretionary fund; eliminated funding for a Civil War statue at the cemetery; and cut $35,000 from the funding of a new pro shop roof at the golf course. Many other capital projects were cut by 3 percent.

Police will still purchase six new vehicles already on order.

The reductions resulted in a $450,000 savings. Out of that, staff positions and overtime pay were restored to the Sheriffs Department, District Attorney's Office, Juvenile Division, Justice Court, the Fire Department's fire prevention office, the city pool and maintenance, Environmental Health, and the offices of treasurer, finance, purchasing, engineering and parks administration.

Supervisors also gave back $10,000 to the library, even though several didn't agree with how the library board went about cutting its budget. Library officials proposed to close on Saturdays to save $7,000 in utility fees as one way to come up with their portion of a 3 percent budget reduction. The possible closure fired up some community members.

"I'm kind of disturbed about what they did and how they did it," said Supervisor Richard Staub about the threat to close the library on Saturdays. "A child with a seventh-grade education could have looked at that budget and done it (without closing Saturdays)."

Several city departments were able to reduce spending by 3 percent and more.

Supervisors will have another chance to make changes in the budget after the state Legislature's session ends.


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