The Board of Supervisors held its annual retreat to talk about major issues the board will be considering in the year ahead.
The board and heads of Carson City departments discussed affordable housing, the city’s asset management program, and impact fees, as well as heard regular presentations on the budget and on ethics.
The city will likely conduct a study to analyze what type and amount of impact fees it might charge developers building in the city.
The fees could be used for new fire services or facilities, or for roads, which are affected by growth. The developer agreement for Lompa Ranch, for example, includes a $1,000 per unit impact fee that may be used to build a new fire station. Another $1,000 fee will be used to offset the cost of the Carson City School District acquiring land to build a new elementary school.
Even without too much new development, the Carson City Fire Department had its busiest year last year, according to Sean Slamon, Fire Chief.
The department took 10,803 calls for fire and medical services, an increase of about 5 percent. Calls for mutual aid from other jurisdictions jumped 88 percent.
“If I had to give you a recommendation today it would be for one additional fire station with three people, one engine and one ambulance,” said Slamon.
Fire stations cost roughly $4 million to $5 million to build, he said.
By state law, impact fees can only cover the incremental cost of growth so an impact fee to pay for roads, for example, would have to be calculated based on a formula that would measure the impact of new residences or businesses on city streets.
Following a study, the board might create a new advisory committee on capital improvements that would make recommendations on the fees similar to other city advisory committees like the Utility Finance Oversight Committee.
The board also will be trying to tackle ways to bring more affordable housing to the city.
Lee Plemel, director, Community Development, outlined various ways the city could incentivize such development.
The city already provides some advantages to affordable housing projects, such as reduced parking requirements.
Additional ideas include allowing the rental of accessory units, granting fee waivers, or providing density bonuses that would allow smaller lots in affordable housing developments.
Mayor Bob Crowell said some of that was “just nibbling around the edges of the problem” because the needs were bigger than a few units here and there.
But bigger projects are difficult to undertake, said Supervisor Brad Bonkowski.
“We’ve been working on the Brown Street project for six years and we’re no closer than we were six years ago,” he said.
The Brown Street project is a Nevada Rural Housing Authority proposal in the Brown Street area off Highway 50 East. The area includes four or five acres owned by the city, but much of the land is in the hands of multiple private property owners.
“It involves getting all the cogs in the machine working at the same time in the same place for it to move forward,” said Bonkowski.
The city also owns land just north of Butti Way and near Public Works’ Corporate Yard, which Plemel estimated might be suitable for about 100 units. But the property has drainage issues that need to be addressed first and building costs remain a problem.
“The cost of construction right now exceeds the value of what you get out of it when it’s done,” said Bonkowski.
The retreat, which was held at the Silver Oak Golf Course all-day Monday, also featured an update on the city’s asset management program and goals for 2018, including an independent assessment of city property roofs and a plan to issue a request for proposal for a reserve study. The study would help determine the amount of funds needed to set aside annually to maintain the city’s facilities.
Jason Link, chief financial officer, gave an overview of the city budget. He said property tax and the consolidated tax make up 70 percent of the general fund, an ever increasing share as they continue to grow while other revenue such as fees remain the same.
The consolidated tax rose 10.4 percent in fiscal year 2017, to $27.4 million, and is estimated to grow to $29.6 million in the current fiscal year.
The budget process for the next fiscal year is underway. The supervisors hear budget assumptions at their next board meeting on Feb. 15.
On March 26, the city has scheduled its annual open house on the budget. On April 5, the board will hear the tentative budget, and on May 21 it will hold a special meeting to adopt the budget.