A plan to raise Carson City property taxes to pay for more fire and sheriff's staff would cost major city businesses thousands of dollars, escalating during the years.
At least six businesses would pay more than an additional $10,000 in taxes if voters approve the ballot initiative in November. Several others would pay more than $5,000.
The amount businesses and all property owners would pay is based on the value the property is assessed at by the city. For every $100 of assessed value, 12.6 cents would go to the public safety plan.
The owner of a property assessed at $100,000, for instance, would have to pay $126 a year for the tax.
The amount property owners would pay also would increase, and it could go up quickly.
The current economic slowdown could hold or drop the assessed value of some properties during the next few years, said Carson City Assessor Dave Dawley, but most values will eventually rise during the years.
The city's once-surging building market helped approximately double assessed residential and commercial values over the past 10 years.
Supervisors, who approved the ballot question on April 17, said if the tax raises more money than needed for the specific staff positions requested by the fire and sheriff's departments, the rest should go to public safety in general.
The tax will also be permanent unless it is repealed by another ballot initiative, said Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover.
The structure of the public-safety tax and its escalating costs concerns Dwight Millard of Millard Realty and Construction. It would cost his business more than $16,000 in additional taxes in the first year alone.
He said he would support the tax if the city can show the money will be used wisely, but the city needs to make sure it doesn't have other expenses it can cut to fund the positions.
The tax, he said, "really comes home to smack hard."
Like Millard, the owners of the Carson Tahoe Specialty Medical Center would probably have to pass the cost of the new tax to tenants, said Brian Bollich, development manager for center owner The Cirrus Group.
The extra cost, however, would be "not that big of a deal" for the business if it had to pay it.
But Cubix Ormsby LLC, owner of the Ormsby House, would pay more than $9,000 in the first year, and "I'd much prefer (the city) cut spending," said Don Lehr, one of the owners.
Other businesses that would pay as much or more as Lehr's business include Sierra Pacific Power, Southwest Gas Corporation, developers John Serpa and Garth Richards and C & A Investments, owner of North Town Plaza.
Representatives from the utility companies said they would have to research the tax before they commented on it, but Pete Livermore, the supervisor who voted against putting the question on the ballot, said the companies would probably have to pass on increased costs to users.
Livermore said he doesn't necessarily oppose hiring more staff, but supporters of the tax hike need to explain exactly how it will be used to fund the positions.
Supporters of the tax have said more staff at the fire and sheriff's departments are needed to keep the city safe.
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at email@example.com or 881-1212.
How much would you pay if the public safety tax is approved?
Multiply the assessed value of your property by .126, then divide that number by 100.
Example: ($100,000 x .126)/100 = $126
Assessed values were mailed to property owners in November. The information also is available at the Carson City Assessor's Office at 887-2130.