Carson City supervisors won’t seek grant to fund firefighters | NevadaAppeal.com
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Carson City supervisors won’t seek grant to fund firefighters

UPDATE

Supervisors will not hold an emergency meeting on May 8.

INITIAL STORY

The Board of Supervisors may call an emergency meeting Friday depending on the outcome of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s announcement Thursday afternoon.

Sisolak is expected to announce plans for reopening the state sooner than May 15.

“How quickly can we meet if something happens at 3 p.m.?” said Supervisor Lori Bagwell, referring to the time of Sisolak’s announcement. “I don’t want to gyp Carson City businesses out of reopening just because of time.”

The board discussed the city’s and state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic during the last item on its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday.

Supervisors expressed frustration with the lack of clear direction, especially for businesses, in the directives issued by the governor.

“One of the things we’ve tried to push for is to ask the governor to be more definitive in his statements,” said Supervisor Stacey Giomi. “I suspect the same will happen today, the specificity will be lacking.”

A lot of the board’s business at its regular meeting Thursday was affected by the uncertainties of the coronavirus public health crisis and its effect on the local economy and city revenues.

The board’s lengthiest discussion, for example, concerned whether to apply for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant that would help pay for nine additional firefighters for three years. The grant would cover 75 percent of the firefighters’ salaries for the first two years and 35 percent in the third year.

That would obligate the city to fund roughly $300,000 and $400,000 in the first and second years and $1 million in the final year, said Fire Chief Sean Slamon.

But, it would also increase efficiencies and likely significantly reduce overtime costs, which the fire department has been tasked to do.

The board discussed the possibility of applying for the grant and turning it down, if necessary, if the city’s sales tax revenue took a big hit from the public health crisis and shutdown.

In the end, the board voted to not apply and to reconsider applying for the annual grant next year.

“This is something I support and we need to do, but it’s really about the economics,” said Supervisor Brad Bonkowski. “I don’t think anyone questions the needs.”

Sheri Russell, chief financial officer, had one bit of good news. Sales tax revenue for February came in about 19 percent higher than the same month the previous year. While that was before the shutdown in Nevada, the potential of the coronavirus was known at the time and the city had conservatively projected a possible 8 percent drop in sales tax.

Also, Russell said one car dealer told her that sales were down 16 percent in April, less of a blow than expected.

The board also voted to approve a $2.7 million capital improvement budget for fiscal year 2021 and to issue $7.7 million in bonds to refinance existing bonds for an anticipated saving of about $250,000.