Carson City supervisors delay utility hikes 6 months, waive business license fees

The Board of Supervisors decided Thursday to delay a hike on utility rates for six months.

The supervisors voted on a new fee schedule for water, wastewater, and stormwater rates and an ordinance enacting it.

Initially, the plan raised rates starting Jan.1 and again on July 1 because the rate increases had been postponed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But, the supervisors agreed to skip the initial rate increase next month in light of the ongoing pandemic.

“I suspect some businesses are barely hanging on. I have zero doubt we need to do these increases,” said Supervisor Stacey Giomi. “But I think there are some serious ramifications if we implement on Jan. 1. COVID is going to get worse before it gets better.”

Starting July 1, base water rates for most single-family residences will go from $27.39 to $29.06 per month while wastewater fees will jump to $43.34. Stormwater rates, which have been restructured into a tiered system based on the size of the house or commercial property, will increase as planned but starting in July instead of January. Those rates start at $6.29, $7.96, and $8.79 for the three single-family tiers, and $30, $45, $60, and $60 for the four commercial tiers. All rates will increase on July 1 every year through 2024.

The board also decided to waive fees for business license renewals for next year as another way to assist struggling businesses. City staff was directed to draft an emergency ordinance which can be passed at the board’s next meeting Dec. 17.

And while discussing the public health emergency, the supervisors told staff to allocate $123,106 in money from the CARES Act, which must be spent before the end of the year, to pay electricity bills for 587 Carson City residents affected by COVID-19 who have received shut-off notices from NVEnergy.

Nicki Aaker, director, Carson City Health and Human Services, said the department expects to receive the coronavirus vaccine and start vaccinating healthcare workers the week of Dec. 14.

Between Nov. 15-25, there were 1,357 new COVID-19 positive cases in Carson City, accounting for 57 percent of all new cases in the Quad County area. Of those Carson City cases, 31 percent were from the Warm Springs Correctional Center.

The board also discussed changes to Title 18, the section of the municipal code that covers zoning and development.

The now four-member board was split on whether to allow homeowners to rent accessory dwelling units on their property. Currently, the guest houses can only be used for family members or visiting guests, but allowing rentals has been suggested as one way to address the affordable housing problem.

“Being a member of the housing task force I can say we’re looking to turn over any rock,” to provide more affordable housing, said Mayor-elect Lori Bagwell.

Giomi said he would not support it and Supervisor John Barrette said he would need to know the final regulations before he could support it. Any changes to the code are months away and will be voted on by a new board and not the existing one. Staff is drafting language that would allow rentals with restrictions that include either the main house or guest house must be owner occupied.

In a three-hour discussion, the board determined allocations for the five-year Community Services Support grants.

The grants were allocated as follows: $15,000 to Nevada Rural Counties Senior Independent Living; $15,000 to Advocates to End Domestic Violence Crisis Intervention; $24,000 to Carson City Senior Center, Meals on Wheels Vehicle Expenses; $54,120 to Ron Wood Family Resource Center Youth Services; $20,000 to Carson City Community Counseling, Addiction Treatment; and $35,000 to CASA of Carson City, Guardian ad Litem.

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