Deal with state gives Carson about $5M for streets

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Steve Branaugh and a crew from Road and Highway Builders, of Reno, tie rebar Tuesday afternoon on a section of the Highway 395 bypass near Fairview Drive. Carson City and Nevada Department of Transportation officials reached an agreement Tuesday that will forgive a $5 million debt that the city owed the state for the first phase of the bypass.

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Steve Branaugh and a crew from Road and Highway Builders, of Reno, tie rebar Tuesday afternoon on a section of the Highway 395 bypass near Fairview Drive. Carson City and Nevada Department of Transportation officials reached an agreement Tuesday that will forgive a $5 million debt that the city owed the state for the first phase of the bypass.

Carson City will get about $5 million to take over some city streets maintained by the Nevada Department of Transportation.

The money that Carson would have paid and now gets to keep comes from part of a 5-cent gas tax the city passed about a decade ago for NDOT's work on the city bypass. The rest of the tax money, about $15 million, will help pay for the second phase of the bypass.

The first phase was finished in 2006 and the second phase was started in October 2007. The project is scheduled to hit U.S. 395 at the base of Spooner Summit in 2011.

The advantage of the agreement is that the city will now have more money for improvements on streets such as Fairview Drive and Stewart and Curry streets, said City Public Works Director Andy Burnham.

But it is "in some ways a wash," he said, because Carson will eventually pay more for the streets than it saved.

The city will get about $800,000 a year for the next six years, but between $100,000 and $200,000 will go to maintain the streets it got from the transportation department. These include parts of Winnie Lane, Kings Canyon Road, Washington and West Fifth streets and all of Ormsby Boulevard and West King Street.

The money will not be transferred to the city's main fund to help pay for a budget shortfall, said City Manager Linda Ritter. If the city needed to transfer that much money, it could use part of its $3.5 million rainy day fund.

She and city staff will make recommendations Feb. 7 on how to deal with the city's budget for the current and next fiscal year.

Ritter said the agreement will also make street maintenance easier.

"It doesn't make a whole lot of sense for NDOT to put down a snow plow and stop at city streets," she said.

The agreement helps the department, too, said Scott Magruder, a department representative, because it not only doesn't have to pay to clear and maintain the streets but also worry about local issues such as permits.

The department has a policy of returning roads to cities so it can focus on intestates and highways, he said.

The city should still make cuts in the street maintenance fund to deal with immediate problems, said Mary Walker, a financial advisor for the city. The money will also not go immediately to the street fund, she said, but to the city's regional transportation commission to be distributed.

• Reporter Geoff Dornan contributed to this article. Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

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