Annexation: that’s a fightin’ word | NevadaAppeal.com

Annexation: that’s a fightin’ word

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

Nothing causes a stir like lots of tax dollars coming in from an industrial park, especially the largest one in the world, with no housing developments around it.

The Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in Storey County has been growing by leaps and bounds, and it is anticipated that 8,000 people will work in its companies by year’s end.

Most of those workers will not live in Storey County, as there are few communities near the industrial park in the same county.

Fernley, in Lyon County, and Sparks, in Washoe County, are the most likely locales for TRI workers to make their homes. Once USA Parkway is completed to reach Highway 50, Silver Springs and Stagecoach will likely become home to TRI workers.

Blake Smith, a Reno developer, wants to put a residential and commercial development on more than 8,000 acres on an area adjacent to TRI in Storey County that is about four miles northeast of the Virginia City Highlands. Highlands residents are putting up quite a battle trying to keep it out, for a variety of reasons.

Should they be successful, TRI workers will continue to live in a county other than the one in which they work.

This is disconcerting to officials from other counties, who spend millions providing police, fire, schools and other services to workers at TRI, but don’t get the tax funds generated by development at the industrial park.

“One of Lyon County’s concerns with the construction of TRI and the lack of housing units in Storey County in general is that Lyon can’t afford to just be a residential base to economic development in other counties, because it’s not sustainable,” said Rob Loveberg, Lyon County planning director. “I believe we have expressed the position in the past that there needs to be some coordination so that housing units and jobs are spread over multiple jurisdictions or some kind of revenue sharing takes care of the disparity between business and residential units.”

Smith, in a letter sent to residents who attended a town meeting on his development March 10, offered a thinly veiled warning that Washoe County could attempt to annex the industrial park if no housing is developed.

In that event, Storey County Manager Pat Whitten said, they’ll have a fight on their hands.

“I would be willing to say we would fight that to the death,” he said. “It could only be accomplished legislatively, and we would absolutely fight it. We don’t want to be amalgamated into any county with our rich history.”

Storey County has been doing better than the rest of the state in generating sales taxes because of the development at TRI. Though the county is putting in a fire station at the industrial park, they do not have to provide expensive services for additional residents.

Whitten was pleased with the county’s sales tax receipts, and said that because Storey County is part of the guaranteed share pool, other counties benefited from TRI activity as well.

The state has a base rate of 6.5 percent that is shared among counties in the pool, Whitten said. In addition, Storey County has three 1/4 percent additional sales taxes that go for the V&T reconstruction, tourism promotion of Virginia City and infrastructure.

He added that despite big sales tax numbers coming in from TRI, county commissioners have elected to remain part of the guaranteed share pool, so other counties will continue to benefit from TRI.

Storey County residents also shop in other counties, generating sales tax there, since Storey has no supermarkets or big-box stores.

And, Whitten said, Storey County contributes regionally in other ways, in particular by being the location for the landfill and electric power plant.

“People who say we’re not shouldering enough forget that Storey County is where the landfill is, where the power plant is,” he said. “We take the garbage, we provide the power.”

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.