Supervisors OK V&T tax plan

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Thursday evening to add an eighth of a cent to the capital's sales tax rate to reconstruct the V&T Railroad.

The vote came after Mayor Marv Teixeira led a parade of supporters to the podium - everyone from area casino owners, the chamber of commerce and convention and visitors bureau to the state tourism director and Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City.

The sales tax will generate enough money to raise $15 million in bonds needed to rebuild the V&T between Virginia City and Carson City.

Teixeira and other supporters said it will be a national, even international, tourist attraction drawing as many as 250,000 visitors a year.

Thursday's vote approved the ordinance on first reading. The board must approve it a second time Nov. 3 to impose the tax.

"Either we go forward tonight, or the project will stop in Lyon County," Teixeira said.

He predicted the railroad would pump more than $20 million a year into the area's economy.

"It will be an economic product that will stand the test of time," he said.

Supervisor Shelly Aldean said she has received a few calls from people worried the tax would never go away once in place. She pointed to a paragraph in the ordinance that instructs the Board of Supervisors to end the tax as soon as it has paid off those bonds.

Finance Director Tom Minton said if sales tax revenues continue to grow at the rate they have over the past decade, those bonds would be paid off in just 11 years.

Only one person spoke against the idea: Anti-tax activist John Wagner, who said he supports reconstructing the V&T but opposes using an increased sales tax to do it. He urged they find another source.

Amodei, however, said in earlier remarks that the city has tried every possible funding source, including the federal government, the state and private donations. He said the plan is a good use of public money for the future of not only Carson City but western Nevada.

The line from Storey County to Gold Hill has been completed. The line over the Overmann Pit was finished last month. Engineer Tom Dorr said the next stage is the 9.3 miles of track to U.S. 50 to begin in 2006, followed by the 3.7 mile extension down Brunswick Canyon to the Carson River in 2007.

The final phases of the project will extend the tracks into Carson City in 2008-09.

The total construction cost is estimated at $34.2 million. The 2 percent room tax raised $4.1 million, and a federal highway grant raised $2.8 million. The Nevada Commission on Tourism voted to give $1 million to the project, and the Nevada Legislature $500,000.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., secured $10 million in this year's highway bill, and another federal grant added $800,000.

The $15 million in bonds paid by the sales tax completes the funding package.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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