Vote on Carson City storm water rates delayed
The Carson City Board of Supervisors on Thursday delayed a decision on raising storm water rates.
The board agreed rates need to be redone and revenue raised to fund necessary storm water improvement projects, but the supervisors bounced it back to city staff to come up with plans for a more formal rate study.
“This is not about do we need increased revenue. That’s a given in my mind,” said Supervisor Brad Bonkowski. “My preference is to give storm drainage the same time we gave water and sewer.”
Water and sewer rates were raised in 2013 after a rate study was done by a consultant.
That study cost between $200,000 and $300,000, said Darren Schulz, Public Works director, and a comparable study for storm water rates would cost $200,000 to $250,000, he estimated.
“We have to find funding to do it,” said Schulz.
The rates being considered were formulated by city staff and slightly modified by the Utility Finance Oversight Committee, which in March voted to recommend a bump in storm water rates across all rate classes over a three-year period, starting in July with a 25 percent hike and then 35 percent increases in the following two years.
Initially, Bonkowski made a motion to raise rates 25 percent in fiscal year 2018 and to conduct a rate study to determine where to take rates after that, including how the rates are divvied up between rate classes.
Right now, there are five rate classes — single family, multi-family, public property, manufacturing and commercial — with the last class paying about seven times the rate of the first class.
“When I look at user classes it seems more like a political compromise than based in fact,” said Bonkowski.
In 2004, the storm water program and rates and classes were created by an advisory committee and approved by the board.
Bonkowski ended up withdrawing his motion to bump up rates for one year while a study was conducted after some board discussion.
“I’ll be voting no,” said Mayor Bob Crowell, who said he thought either the rates should be raised as recommended or a rate study conducted, but not both.
“I don’t mind a rate study, but I would just caution, be careful what you ask for,” he said. “My bet is if you do a rate study, they’re going to come back higher than what was just proposed.”
The board tabled the item and directed staff to return with a plan to fund a study.
The board also decided to continue to work on a new encroachment ordinance and bring it back for a first reading.
Businesses with a permit to encroach on public right of way will be assessed a tax on the property for the permit period and language was added to the ordinance to make clear the tax couldn’t be reimbursed if circumstances prevented the business from using the right of way for that entire time.
Patrick Pittenger, transportation manager, gave an update on the Epic Rides bike race returning to Carson City on June 16-18.
The race will be bigger this year. Last year it was capped at 600 riders; this year 900 riders will be allowed and 750 have already signed up, Pittenger said.
Another change is Mountain Street will no longer be used and the in-town starting and ending course has been reduced and should impact fewer homes, businesses and churches, he said.
A public meeting on the race is being held June 7 at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 306 W. Musser St.
The board also appointed Michelle Schmitter to the Historic Resources Commission and Guadalupe Ramirez to the Cultural Commission.
At the start of the meeting, the annual historic preservation awards honored Jim and Margaret de Arrietta for their home at 216 Mountain St. and Jim and Coleman Warren, the father and son team who completely renovated 602 W. Robison St., as well as Ken Dorr for ongoing contribution to the Virginia and Truckee Railway Reconstruction project.