The biggest story of the week was ...

T here was a huge story in Carson City this week, but it may not be the one you think.

It wasn't the mayor's arrest for driving under the influence on Monday night. While that story was certainly important and justifies the tremendous response it's gotten from readers, the news of most significance to Carson City happened on Tuesday.

Auto dealer magnate Michael Hohl, at a ceremonial signing of purchase documents for Valley Chevrolet, talked about the possibility of building an auto mall in Douglas County.

Should that happen, the ramifications would be tremendous for Carson City, which relies heavily on sales tax revenue from auto sales. Millions of dollars the city uses to provide services and pay its employees would evaporate. This would be a city in financial crisis forced to lay off employees in order to pay the bills.

And it all hinges on the will of one man.

Michael Hohl has owned dealerships in Carson City for two decades, but says he wants to develop an auto mall - a huge site that would house auto dealerships representing several manufacturers. The problem is that Carson City does not have the land necessary, approximately 50 acres, for him to build it.

Enter Douglas County to the south, where Hohl already owns a great deal of land. Should he develop an auto mall there, all of his Carson City dealerships would move to that site.

It's a precarious position for Carson City, whose ability to raise taxes was taken away by the cap put in place by the Legislature. There would be no way to replace the lost dollars.

It's a test to see what kind of neighbor Carson City has to the south. Yes, Douglas County has the economic muscle to give Hohl, or any other business that may be interested in locating in Carson City, huge financial incentives to locate there instead. But just because it can doesn't mean it should. Douglas County has already benefited greatly in development and growth because of the proximity of Carson City.

Will Douglas County be a good neighbor and recognize that Carson City's economic viability benefits them as well, or will it adopt an adversarial and predatory stance in its relationship with Carson City?

Rest assured, the answers to those questions will be affecting Carson City long after Mayor Teixeira's DUI becomes a footnote in history.


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