Carson City State of the City 2017: Our community is strong, Crowell said
Carson City is thriving thanks to its citizens, said Mayor Bob Crowell at his annual State of the City Monday.
“Carson City is not merely a collection of neighborhoods. We are one community, indeed one community working together. If I could leave you with one message tonight, it would be just that. The state of our city is strong, the state of our community is even stronger,” Crowell told an audience of about 75 people in the Bob Boldrick Theater at the Carson City Community Center.
Crowell outlined some of the city’s milestones in the last year, including the opening of the Multipurpose Athletic Center, the new animal shelter and the downtown road construction project which featured the addition of McFadden Plaza.
And he talked about what is coming in 2017, including the freeway bypass to Spooner Junction, which will alleviate congestion on Fairview Drive and reduce traffic on South Carson Street, presenting both an opportunity and challenge for the city.
“With the increase in Washoe County sales tax to 8.265 percent, Carson City retailers have almost a full percentage point advantage in sales tax and a $0.27 per gallon advantage in fuel taxes. We should maximize those advantages,” he said.
In 2017, design will start on projects on both a stretch of Curry Street downtown and on South Carson Street, which the city is taking over from the state once the bypass opens.
“South Carson in particular is the center of gravity for retail in Carson City. It is imperative that we do everything we can to help our retailers,” said Crowell.
He discussed an energy savings project which will reduce the city’s electricity consumption by more than 2 million kilowatt hours and its natural gas use by 65,000 therms annually, saving $200,000 per year.
“This $4.2 million project is entirely self-funded through guaranteed energy savings,” said Crowell.
The $30 million renovation project at the Water Resource Recovery Facility is on budget and ahead of schedule, said Crowell, and the city’s implementation of an asset management program is underway and will help the city better manage its maintenance needs.
“During the lean years, we continued to kick the can down the road. We probably had no choice. That road has come to an end and we need to plan for the future,” said Crowell.
Now, Carson City is growing again, including the tax revenue that funds operations such as maintenance.
“When I became mayor, our ending fund balance, or rainy day fund as it might be called, was almost depleted, it stood right around the statutory minimum of 5 percent,” Crowell said. “I am pleased to report that at the end of last fiscal year, that fund was at 10.75 percent, or $8.1 million. Our finance folks expect that we may well end this fiscal year with a similar amount. That gives us some options as we look at recapitalizing city assets from buildings and grounds to the sheriff’s office and fire department.”
Development is back, too, Crowell said.
In the first six months of the fiscal year, over $20 million in new commercial construction and $25 million in residential development has been permitted, he said.
Crowell thanked the city’s many local organizations, from non-profit social organizations such as the Advocates to End Domestic Violence and Friends in Service Helping, to arts entities such as the Brewery Arts Center and Capital Arts Initiative.
“I could go on all night talking about the good works that abound in our community but let me just say on behalf of our board and our community, we appreciate all that you do and want all of you to know how important you are to making us truly one community with a quality of life that’s the envy of others,” Crowell said. “It is what makes Carson proud and we are proud of all of you.”
After the speech, Crowell and Supervisors Karen Abowd, Lori Bagwell, John Barrette and Brad Bonkowski stepped into the audience to speak with attendees and take questions individually.
“I thought it was very uplifting and informative and it’s a great vision for where we’re going as a city,” said Chet Burton, president, Western Nevada College, after the speech. “The mayor is providing great leadership.”
Randy Gaa with Muscle Powered was happy to hear about streets.
“I was very pleased the mayor recognized Muscle Powered and the fact the city is moving forward with bicycle and pedestrian friendly complete streets,” Gaa said. “I’m also pleased the mayor recognized the off road Epic Rides event.”
Maxine Nietz, who organized the protest against the proposed Vintage at Kings Canyon development which last year received city approval to move forward, said the speech left that out.
“How quickly they forget,” said Nietz. “It caused very deep divisions that affected people’s lives.”
The State of the City event was hosted by the Carson City Chamber of Commerce and Ronni Hannaman, executive director.
“I thought it was a great, positive speech,” said Hannaman. “It shows how great this community really is when it works together.”