Carson, rural counties face tough future
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Carson City and rural counties told the state Wednesday they hope to improve their economies despite falling revenues, high unemployment and a building slowdown.
Carson City has enough reserves to see it through the $3 million drop in sales taxes this year and other problems, Mayor Bob Crowell told the Assembly Government Affairs Committee.
The city started to plan for the slow economy after it saw auto sales start to fall about two years ago. Sales taxes make up about 40 percent of the city’s main fund. Auto sales make up about 40 percent of sales taxes.
The city is going to try to improve its economic outlook without cutting city employee pay, he said.
“We believe that in Carson City we are at the bottom of this economic cycle,” he said.
The city is freezing new hires, delaying public works projects and seeking out new business downtown in big box stores to revive the economy, he said.
The economy in Storey County also has slowed, but is better than many other local governments because of its Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, said Storey County Commission Chairman Bum Hess.
The 100,000-acre industrial park is becoming a “hub of the West,” he said.
Storey County was prepared for the slow economy because it has long run a fiscally conservative government funded through unsteady tourism, he said.
Lyon County also has seen business growth as well as a population boom, said Lyon County Manager Dennis Stark.
But the county may get to the point where it would have to cut programs and employee salaries, he said.
Foreclosures increased by more than 1,200 percent from 2007 to 2008, building permit applications have slowed and land values dropped, he said. Also, the sheriff’s department is understaffed, a new county jail is desperately needed and utility costs have risen.
Stark said the county opposes all unfunded mandates from the state.
“We are an honest government, for the people, and cannot afford for the state to diminish our capacity,” he said.
– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank
@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.