By Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer
Carson City needs to be more open and accountable about how it spends money to promote downtown and other redevelopment projects, the board of supervisors said Thursday.
Few official rules exist now regulating how the board spends the money it uses for projects, including funds taken from the property taxes of the city's redevelopment areas in downtown and the south side of the city, but supervisors said they want to change that.
Business Development Manager Joe McCarthy called the meeting to get the opinions of supervisors on how best to attract, grow and keep businesses and what programs and rules would best guide those plans.
One of the few programs the two-person business development office has to promote redevelopment is money taken from property taxes, but there aren't official rules or oversight governing even that, McCarthy and supervisors acknowledged.
"The one thing we've been lacking sufficiently are (reports) relating to your investment," McCarthy said.
Businesses can now can get up to $100,000 based on the cost of their project. This does not include larger redevelopment projects, such as the $2 million incentive spent to bring in Burlington Coat Factory, which was paid for with money from the general fund.
The city could set up new programs, like a loan program, to bring in businesses and get others to remodel, McCarthy said, but Supervisor Richard Staub said the board should be careful not to move too quickly because it doesn't have even the most basic rules it needs yet.
"We really have to get down to the grassroots here, because we don't have any grassroots," Staub said.
McCarthy said he plans to have new rules for supervisors to vote on at their first meeting in September.
Residents Jed Block and Jean Bondiett, who is one of three candidates challenging Staub in the Aug. 12 primary, told the board it needs to be more transparent about how and what it does.
The board and McCarthy have been working on official guidelines for business incentives since 2005, but several supervisors at a June meeting said they wanted those soon after the board approved $100,000 to subsidize renovation work at Doppelganger's Bar & Grill.
The board's general policy is to give redevelopment money to a business project only if that work could not be finished without public money. Doppelganger's, however, is nearly finished and also benefited from renovation work by previous owners.
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