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Carson redevelopment staff praised

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

The Carson City Board of Supervisors finished reviewing an audit of the redevelopment program Thursday, praising staff whom the audit had criticized.

City Manager Larry Werner and City Economic Development Manager Joe McCarthy had disagreed since the audit was released in November by former City Auditor Sue Johnson, who questioned how approximately $500,000 in redevelopment funds was spent.

Johnson called for the Nevada Attorney General’s Office to investigate the redevelopment program. The Carson City District Attorney’s Office said the redevelopment staff and authority had broken no rules and declined to forward the audit to the state attorney general.

McCarthy said in an interview that all public offices need to be reviewed and he and Werner will work on policies that will leave a proper audit trail for the redevelopment program.

The city does need to recognize the redevelopment work that supervisors and the economic development office have accomplished, McCarthy said. They have recruited business and expanded the tax base in what has been tough competition with Douglas County, he said.

Supervisor Shelly Aldean said redevelopment staff have done “a miraculous job with the resources they have been given.”

Supervisor Robin Williamson called the audit a “flawed document” that had been manipulated to make it look like redevelopment staff had done something wrong.

She said it was telling that Johnson declined to present the audit to supervisors.

The redevelopment authority, made up of city supervisors, and redevelopment staff help attract, retain and expand business in two zones downtown and on the south side of the city. It is funded by part of the property taxes collected in those zones.

Both McCarthy and Werner said the audit was wrong to criticize violations of policy in the redevelopment program. The program is a separate public entity from the city board of supervisors, they said, and had not adopted any policies that could have been broken.

Supervisor Richard Staub said redevelopment staff had violated city policy because they are city employees. The staff has done a great job, however, he said, and only needed more transparency to help them continue to succeed.

“I am not on a headhunt,” Staub said.

All supervisors at the meeting praised the work of the economic development office that includes McCarthy and Deputy Manager Tammy Westergard.

Supervisor Pete Livermore and Mayor Marv Teixeira did call the findings of the audit “disturbing.”

Teixeira said there were many projects questioned in the audit he couldn’t explain.

“When I’m asked by the public,” he said, “I just tell them I don’t know. I don’t really know.”

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.