Carson City budget: How it is created |

Carson City budget: How it is created

The months-long process to build the Carson City budget is underway.

It launched in December when the city’s finance department started making payroll projections and will end in a few months when the Board of Supervisors gives its final approval.

In between, city departments will submit supplemental requests, the internal finance committee will deliberate and the board will hash out the details over the course of a few meetings.

And the 10-person city finance department will be busy.

The overall goal is relatively flat growth in fiscal year 2017-18 from the current year’s budget of $137.45 million.

The finance department first produces an estimated budget for each department based on current spending and staffing, said Nancy Paulson, Carson City chief financial officer.

Two accounting managers and the deputy chief financial officer pore over them, making sure they make sense, and then deliver them to each department by Feb. 10.

The department heads then have until March 3 to examine and send them back with changes.

Those changes might include different staffing levels, which change the payroll, or a transfer of money between line items.

“If they want to move anything around they let us know. They can make a budget transfer request,” Paulson said. “They can’t move anything out of salary.”

Departments can, for example, move $10,000 initially allocated for services, into supplies, with the goal of producing the most accurate budget possible.

All that can be done as long as the department’s bottom line remains the same.

“If they want to increase a line item, if they want an extra person or the Sheriff wants more ammunition, or something, they’ll do a supplemental request,” Paulson said.

Those requests are reviewed by the internal finance committee (IFC), consisting of the CFO, city manager, director of human resources and a representative from the District Attorney’s Office, which meets every Wednesday.

The IFC, Paulson said, has an idea of the amount of additional money that may be available and considers the requests, some of which may be necessary due to contractual increases or public safety concerns.

The IFC meets in March to review them, confers with the department heads who make the requests, and then decides what to recommend to the Board of Supervisors.

Finance puts together most of the information — organizational charts, personnel details, budget worksheets without the supplemental requests — into a fiscal summary contained in huge binders for the board to first review, this year at its April 6 meeting.

At that meeting, too, the board may consider the five-year capital improvement plan.

After that, likely at its next meeting, the board will also consider the supplemental requests.

The supervisors can approve or not, and make changes.

Last year, for example, the board decided $200,000 requested by Public Works for a truck barn and new fuel facility would be better spent on roads maintenance.

Last year, the board first took up the budget at its April 7 meeting and approved it three meetings later on May 19.


The Carson City budget comprises the General Fund funded by property tax; licenses and permit fees such as business, liquor and gaming licenses; charges for services such as landfill and recreation fees; and the CTAX, which is a combination of six taxes.

Half the general fund is spent in salaries, a quarter on benefits and another quarter on services and supplies.

The city maintains 18 special revenue funds that each are funded by a specific revenue source for a specific purpose.

The Infrastructure Fund, for example, is funded by .125 percent of the sales tax for infrastructure projects.

So far, it’s been used to finance the debt borrowed to build the Multi-Athletic Center, new animal shelter and the downtown road construction project and will be used going forward for other corridor projects.

The city’s four capital project funds work in the same way, with a designated source for designated purposes.

The city’s six Enterprise Funds are funded by user fees and include sewer, water and ambulance.

Carson City’s 7.6 percent sales tax is divvied up between eight specifically designated pots: 2 percent goes to the state general fund; 2.6 percent to schools; 1.75 percent to the supplemental city county relief tax, which is redistributed to counties based on a formula; .50 percent to the basic city county relief tax, distributed to the county of origin; .25 percent each to streets and Quality of Life; and .125 percent each to infrastructure and the V&T Railroad.