Carson approves $75,000 for events
Tempers flared Thursday at the Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting over $75,000 in redevelopment funds proposed to help fund downtown summer activities.
The board ultimately approved the allocation 4-1, with Supervisor Pete Livermore opposing. Livermore objected to pumping so much money into one area of town when other areas are suffering, as well as not having been provided with supporting documents such as the redevelopment fund’s budget.
Livermore pointed to the fact that the community – particularly the business community – is struggling financially, and he called the expenditure a “waste of redevelopment money.”
He also questioned the use of redevelopment money over the past 12-18 months, and challenged members of the audience to have the courage to come forward and agree with him that “enough is enough is enough.”
In a report to the board, the Office of Business Development said that the 15-week Curry Street Promenade – including the Saturday morning farmer’s market, family activities along Curry Street and at the Brewery Arts Center, and the summer concerts – attracts thousands to Carson City’s downtown during times that are otherwise quiet and inactive.
“The increased foot traffic generated by the Curry Street Promenade within this people-oriented area has a direct impact on the success of many small businesses and cultural facilities throughout the area,” OBD Director Joe McCarthy said in the report.
He estimated that the activities generate between $400,000 and $500,000 during the season.
“It doesn’t happen on its own. It takes a coordinated effort to bring people to our town,” McCarthy said.
Supervisor Molly Walt disagreed with Livermore, stating that the 8,222 people who attended the ice rink would argue that this form of recreation enhanced their quality of life, and that the same could be said for those who attend the downtown farmer’s market and Fridays at Third street dances.
“You can’t say this is a waste,” Walt said.
Redevelopment Authority Citizen’s Committee Vice Chairman Stan Jones argued that the money invested in the farmer’s market and other downtown activities is money well spent.
“There wasn’t anything in town before,” Jones said.
Day Williams, candidate for supervisor Ward 3, said he sent an e-mail to McCarthy early this week asking for a detailed budget because it wasn’t included in the supporting materials, but he did not receive a response.
Williams, who had spoken during the public comment portion of the meeting, wondered why some of the redevelopment money could not be funneled to the businesses at the north end of town.
He also said he didn’t see why the city had to be “so intimately involved” in some of the downtown activities when the merchants could handle it.
Mayor Bob Crowell asked Williams why he hadn’t brought his concerns to the citizens committee, but Williams said he didn’t have “enough time to go to every meeting.” He said all he was asking for was accountability and transparency.
Mike Drews, chairman of the city’s Historic Resources Commission, said he understood Livermore’s concerns, but added, “don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.”
Drews said a budget is not going to adequately reflect the intangible benefits of downtown activities.
“We need to keep supporting these events,” he said.
And BAC Director John Procaccini was also angered by some of the remarks, saying that funding was vital to the city’s future.
“If you do not do this in Carson City, you are going to be a ghost town,” he said.
Supervisor Shelly Aldean said she would like to see the 2010 redevelopment budget and also would like to see the OBD “tighten the process.”
McCarthy said he would bring in a more complete document when some of the season’s lineups are confirmed, and “spread the activity up and down the street.”
The funding was approved subject to submission of the 2010 budget.
The following redevelopment funds were unanimously approved prior to discussion of the $75,000:
• $7,000 to support the Wild West Tour/Evenings of Bliss and Taste of Downtown
• $10,750 to support the Nevada Day Celebration
• $2,500 to support the Mile High Jazz Band Association, Inc.
Redevelopment funds are generated only within the designated redevelopment district through property tax increments known as TIFs. They cannot be used for anything other than improvements within the district. The Redevelopment Plan adopted by the Carson City Board of Supervisors provides that a purpose of the plan is to “encourage and assist in providing people-oriented areas in the downtown for daytime and evening special events and promotional activities” and to “establish the highest level of recreational opportunity for residents and visitors of all age levels.”
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