Carson supervisor candidates debate at chamber luncheon
Candidates for Carson City’s two supervisor seats agreed Tuesday that the survival of Western Nevada College is vital to the capital’s growth and prosperity.But none seemed to have any concrete ideas how to prevent further budget cuts that could threaten its programs and accreditation.The Board of Regents has proposed a budget that would further chop the college’s budget, taking another $4 million out of its current $15 million state revenue stream.Jim Shirk, seeking to unseat Molly Walt in Ward 4, said cuts during the past legislative sessions have cut attendance while raising fees and reducing available classes.“We need that university more than we know,” he said. “But there are going to have to some hard decisions because we don’t have the revenue.”Walt, a teacher, described the college as “the opportunity for a lot of my students.” But the demand for funding, she said, “can’t just come to the doors of city hall.”Dennis Johnson and Brad Bonkowski, opponents for the open Ward 2 seat, both called for all parties to come to the table to see what can be done to protect and restore funding to the college.Johnson said every possible option must be looked at.“The last thing we want to see is Northern Nevada education dollars being sent down to Southern Nevada,” Bonkowski said.The four were guests of the chamber’s monthly Soup’s On luncheon.Walt spent the first portion of the discussion defending her vote to raise the city’s property tax rate. She said the only other option would have been to reduce services.Walt pointed out that often times people suggest cuts to different governmental services — but usually only those services they don’t use. She said it would a tough decision but that her vote for the increase was to maintain the essential public safety, recreational and other services the city provides “because we like what we have here right now.”That subject, which touches on the issue of priorities, came up again when they were asked their opinion on the city’s need for a new and larger animal shelter. All agreed with the need. But all also agreed that it has to be put on the list and prioritized for the day when the city has some money for that project.Bonkowski, a commercial Realtor, said the city needs to make sure its administrative procedures, ordinances, regulations and development standards “are reasonable in the real world.”Johnson said that means looking at all the rules and evaluating the process businesses have to go through to see where the obstacles are in order to eliminate or reduce them.Shirk said city officials should also take a look at those businesses that looked at Carson City but decided not to come.“We need to find the reason why not and correct those reasons,” he said.Walt said the existing board has worked closely with Northern Nevada Development Authority and other business groups to do those things and will continue to do so.Bonkowski backed that up saying in his experience, the current system is “as business friendly as it can be.”But he said there might be appetite to get rid of a few regulations to help the process.Early voting runs through Nov. 2. The polls at the Carson City Courthouse will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Friday. After Nov. 2, voters will have to cast ballots at their designated polling locations on Nov. 6. In Carson City, all local officials run as nonpartisan candidates. And unlike their legislative counterparts, Board of Supervisors candidates run for a ward seat but are voted on by all voters in the city, not just residents of their ward.