Douglas, Nev., transportation proposal would raise gas, sales taxes
GARDNERVILLE — Gas taxes, sales taxes and utility operator fees are three of the revenue sources the champions of Douglas County’s connectivity plan are exploring to pay for transportation improvements.
In presentations given at the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday and to The Record-Courier on Tuesday, Connectivity co-champions Jacques and Dominique Etchegoyhen said it’s time for the county to take another step forward.
A combination of the three tax sources and a potential improvement district to maintain roads in the portions of the county not covered by a town or improvement district will be presented to county commissioners next month.
Jacques Etchegoyhen, who served as a county commissioner for 10 years before resigning in 2005, said $4.4 million a year would allow the county to fund a bond to get the work done.
Etchegoyhen pointed out the results of a R-C online poll that indicated most people would not venture to travel by bicycle or on foot between the Gardnerville Ranchos and Gardnerville due to unsafe conditions.
“How do we get out of our cars if it isn’t safe?” he asked.
The Nevada Department of Transportation is proposing $397 million in improvements in Carson Valley by 2030.
Most of that money goes to build cloverleafs and frontage roads along 395 between Carson City and Minden to deal with the 6,000 commuters who use the route daily.
But without matching funds from the county, Etchegoyhen said the money will probably go to counties that are willing to pay for roads.
“The focus will be on matching funds,” he said. “We’re paying that gas tax anyway. We need to talk about actually investing this money in infrastructure. For $4 a month per person we can get a lot of amenities in Douglas County.”
Etchegoyhen said he considers the concern Carson Valley will fill up with residents has been alleviated by the county’s growth cap.
“Concerns that we will grow up to be little Fresno is a dead issue,” he said.
“We are working on this for residents of the county,” he said.
Vitality team member Karen Craig said private sector investment in Douglas County could reach $400 million over the next two years.
A big piece of the investment is the Parks’ work on the Hard Rock Casino, which is scheduled to open at Stateline next week. But other things like the completion of the COD Casino and work Chris Bently is doing in Minden also contribute to that figure.
“We’re hearing from folks that the private sector is all in,” he said. “Public infrastructure needs to catch up. We need the infrastructure to keep that economic engine going to establish a positive feedback loop.”
One of the largest projects facing the county is the revitalization of downtown Stateline, including building a loop road around the main source of Douglas County’s gaming taxes. The project is estimated to cost $70 million, but Douglas County would only be responsible for a portion of that.
County commissioners rejected a 5-cent gas tax in 2011 after the proposal met with opposition. Attempts to get voters to approve a similar collection of taxes for infrastructure have met with failure over the last quarter century.
The county commission has the authority under state law to enact the taxes, but in the past has either refused to do so or put the issue to an advisory vote. Etchegoyhen acknowledges he hopes commissioners are going to act.