Carson, Douglas consider sharing their wealth
Appeal Staff Writer
Officials in Carson City and Douglas County have been discussing how to cool off their fiery, protracted competition for sales tax revenue.
“Let’s put a stop to the madness,” said Supervisor Robin Williamson. “If there’s a way we can do what’s best, we owe it to people in both of our communities.”
Neither side has come up with a remedy. Elected officials in both areas, however, will consider, during their scheduled meetings on Thursday, allowing study of the topic.
Sales tax revenues aren’t increasing in either community. Carson City and Douglas were down this February when compared to taxable sales in February 2006. Carson was down by 4.9 percent and Douglas by 8.6 percent.
Similar discussions a few years ago didn’t work out. For example, Carson ended up suing Douglas and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to halt a plan for an auto mall in North Douglas County. Federal land in Douglas was auctioned off and purchased by Michael Hohl and Dink Cryer.
The matter was eventually settled in late 2003 by putting a two-year hold on Douglas’ auto mall plan. This was to give Carson time to devise ways to protect and potentially enhance auto sales near the Carson-Douglas border.
Auto sales comprise more than one-third of Carson’s total sales tax revenues.
“Both jurisdictions have been concerned about how divisive this has become in recent years,” said Supervisor Shelly Aldean.
The goals sought this time include broadening both tax bases, removing the need to compete for retailing, providing incentives and improving older commercial sites in both communities.
Carson and Douglas have potential for fostering new sources of revenue through retail development within their own borders but share customers. Carson residents go to Douglas to spend money and vice-versa. Cooperation “just makes more sense,” than the current climate where the two counties try to out bid each other for retail development, according to Linda Ritter, Carson City manager.
“We’re not walking into it with preconceived notions,” said Dan Holler, Douglas County manager.
Also proposed is a way to provide tax revenue to each county for its infrastructure needs based on demand.
Sales tax allocation to Nevada’s localities “is a formula-driven process,” he said. “We’d likely have to try to change state law.”
Carson would bear the cost of any study, but the agreement calls for Douglas County’s “support.” The Northern Nevada Development Authority would administer the study, Ritter said.
“If we’re successful, it could be quite groundbreaking,” Aldean said. “It could become a template for other communities to use around the state.”
It wouldn’t have an immediate impact, however. If changes in state law were required, a proposal couldn’t be presented until the next legislative session at the earliest, Holler added.
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.
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