Carson City supervisors boost capital projects spending
The Board of Supervisors allocated more money to capital improvement projects since tax revenue came in better than expected despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
But the first supervisors’ meeting since Mayor Robert Crowell passed away last week started with a tribute to the longtime Carson City resident, lawyer, and public servant.
“He was humble and did not covet the spotlight. Bob was the epitome of what we should all strive to be,” said Mayor Pro Tem Brad Bonkowski.
Bonkowski also extended his condolences to the Crowell family and thanked city staff for organizing Saturday’s memorial service for the mayor and Supervisor Stacey Giomi for the remembrance bouquet that stood in Crowell’s place on the dais Thursday.
Bonkowksi is now acting mayor until Mayor-elect Lori Bagwell assumes office Jan. 4, said Jason Woodbury, district attorney, when the meeting opened.
The supervisors revisited the capital improvement project list and supplemental requests for fiscal year 2021, which are usually set when the budget is filed with the state in the spring.
“We did not transfer any money from the general fund to the CIP fund or bring any supplemental requests during the budget process,” said Sheri Russell, chief financial officer, due to the economic uncertainty surrounding the public health emergency.
But, the city’s consolidated tax revenue, consisting mostly of sales tax, came in higher than projected during the initial months of the government shutdown and expenses were lower due in part to $1.2 million in CARES Act federal funding to fight the coronavirus.
As a result, the 2021 budget was augmented $9.3 million and the supervisors approved $6.3 million in additional projects and staff requests.
The supervisors turned down one item, a fueling station for the city’s vehicle fleet, which required $550,000 from the general fund, and redirected it to roads and maintenance.
Bagwell, who sits on the Regional Transportation Commission, requested $400,000 of the $550,000 go to road work. Public Works now rotates street projects between different parts of the city each year, but due to a drop in gas tax collections, the 2021 area in east Carson City was getting $400,000 less than other areas.
So the city will likely add work on a portion of Center Drive near Snyder Avenue, which can be coordinated with a Washoe Tribe of Nevada & California project on the same road.
The remainder of the money saved from nixing the fueling station will go to the extraordinary maintenance fund.
The supervisors also decided not to remove the extended stay exemption from the room tax. The exemption means any hotel, motel or RV park stays of 28 days or longer are not charged the transient occupancy tax.
The 11 percent tax funds the Culture and Tourism Authority and the exemption means an estimated $570,000 in lost revenue annually.
The board was looking at it as part of an ongoing effort to deal with rundown extended stay motels in the city.
But, the motels are primarily used as residences and the board was concerned that the tax would be passed along to tenants.
“I received a lot of comment on this. First on RV parks, the consensus was it would hurt tourism,” said Bonkowski. “And for the low to moderate income demographic that make up a large part of the extended stay rooms, it would push those residents out onto the streets.”
The board received an update on the city’s coronavirus stats. Jeanne Freeman, with the emergency operations center, said the quad county area reported 140 new cases in the most recent two weeks, a 7 percent decline, but 61 cases were in Carson City, a 32 percent increase for the city.
Public Works is also looking into testing waste water for the presence of the coronavirus. Andy Hummel, waste water utility manager, said the testing can be used to monitor trends and would foretell a spike in cases.
The board also allocated $283,213 in Community Development Block Grants to the Boys and Girls Club of Western Nevada, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Nevada Health Centers, and Spirit of Hope; allowed the extended use of outdoor storage units by businesses during the COVID-19 emergency; and nixed plans for installing shade structures at the 3rd Street parking lot while plans for the McFadden plaza were sent back to the Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee for consideration.