Local officials prepare to lobby state lawmakers for funds

Area government officials are trying to convince state lawmakers to take a variety of actions during the upcoming Legislative session.

Many requests are ways to offset the financial effects resulting from the state's property-tax increase cap. Cities and counties are only allowed to raise taxes by about 3 percent on homes and 8 percent on commercial and rental buildings each year.

The cap was established in 2005 when AB 489 became law. It is blamed for the loss of more than $2 million in revenue to Carson City alone.

How to pay for long-term medical care of indigents is a concern.

"Either we fund it, or end up with people out on the street," said Carson City Manager Linda Ritter. "It's one of those things we have to take care of."

And with Carson's population aging, the situation is "getting worse, and it's not going to get better," she said.

It's a highly variable annual cost. Last year, the cost was roughly $120,000, but in some years, it has been twice that amount, Ritter said.

One way to get more money is receiving permission for localities to add up to 5 cents more above the cap.

Another option is to ask for more funding by creating a "skeleton bill," which will be written later once details are worked out.

No matter how it's achieved, "it's an important issue," Ritter said.

Overall, "local government is struggling to make ends meet," said Supervisor Shelly Aldean. "How do we get creative so we can provide services citizens expect and need, and still be fiscally responsible?"

One solution might be requesting additional latitude to spend tax revenues. Aldean made note of a Bill Draft Request No. 938, by Sen. Michael McGinness, R-Fallon, that would revise provisions governing use of fuel taxes by counties with less than 100,000 residents.

Carson City, with about 57,000 residents, is over the current population limit of 50,000.

Also being sought by the city is $8 million to help pay for the Virginia & Truckee Railway tourist route between Carson City and Gold Hill.

Carson's requests are made with Lyon and Douglas counties. As a group, they lobby as the Tri-County Legislative Coalition.

Lyon is seeking more money from the state to operate its overcrowded juvenile detention center. Bill Draft Request No. 937, also authored by McGinness, would authorize the boards of some county commissions to levy a property tax to pay the costs of operating a regional juvenile services facility.

Lyon also is interested in having state legislators designate the responsibilities of government and people using recreational trails in order to clearly spell out the liabilities both parties will face, said Lyon County Manager Donna Kristaponis.

Nevada's 74th Legislative Session begins Feb. 5.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.

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