Budget concerns loom as supervisors mull various issues | NevadaAppeal.com
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Budget concerns loom as supervisors mull various issues

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

Although Carson City’s $117.6 million budget was approved weeks ago, concerns about funding city operations remain.

The Board of Supervisors gave initial approval Thursday for 1 percent increases in electric and natural gas fees.

The two increases would result in an estimated gain of roughly $1 million each year. With this added revenue source, the anticipated budget shortfall is reduced by roughly $600,000, and the rest of the money would be used for anti-methamphetamine expenditures, said City Manager Linda Ritter.

Franchise fees are added to the utility charges and make up a total bill. A 2.5 percent franchise fee added to a $100 electric bill would result in a $102.50 cost, for example. Communities are only allowed to raise these fees by 1 percent every two years, until the fees top out at 5 percent, Ritter said.

The higher franchise fees would pay for two more sheriff’s deputies to fight drug-related crimes, a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office to take the cases through court and provide $100,000 to Partnership Carson City, a group that focuses on halting meth use.

“Our issues are the meth, the gangs, graffiti,” said Mayor Marv Teixeira.

He added that the higher fee only addresses half of the budget shortfall because this plan leaves officials the chore of finding another $600,000 to cover operating costs before the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2008.

Also discussed, but not acted upon, was whether to keep a computer program system purchased two years ago for employee payroll records. City officials are wondering whether it would be feasible to continue using it, to buy another system or contract out the work.

It’s still being used to process payroll. Promises to curb costs by allowing employees to do many things for themselves weren’t fulfilled, however. It was supposed to streamline processes and eliminate paperwork for a variety of human resources functions.

“We spent almost $400,000 and have nothing to show for it,” Teixeira said. “And there’s no budget to remediate the situation.”

That amount includes all expenses, including product maintenance, employee training, overtime and related costs. The initial estimate was closer to $300,000.

“I had to agendize it,” Teixeira said. “I was disturbed because to get this information at this point in time, it was very late in coming.”

“These things happen,” said Joe Eiben, a resident who used to program computers for a living. “Your position is not unique.”

In other business, the supervisors:

• Recognized Adam Houghton for helping to save the life of an 83-year-old Dayton man whose car flipped over and landed into a water-filled ditch near East Fifth Street.

• Reappointed Craig Mullet and appointed George Wendell to the Planning Commission. Wendell will fill the seat vacated by Roy Semmens.

• Gave final approval to the Landscape Maintenance Ordinance, which allows the city to fund the maintenance of these facilities through creation of special districts – if the developer or property owner requests it. Having this type of provision is required by the state.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.