In state’s slow economy, Carson City is a mixed bag | NevadaAppeal.com
YOUR AD HERE »

In state’s slow economy, Carson City is a mixed bag

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

A recent report named Nevada’s economy as slowing faster than any state, but it’s not clear where Carson City fits in with its mix of growth and losses.

The Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York in Albany drew statistics from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and this week named Nevada, along with Arizona, Florida and Michigan, as the worst of the 39 states that have seen slowing economies since January 2007 in part because of falling home prices and declining state revenue.

Researchers don’t have enough information to look at how well cities in Nevada are performing, said the lead author of the report, Donald Boyd, but areas that have had housing problems and relied on sales taxes are doing worst.

Economic problems are also spreading, he said, and will soon reach states that have avoided Nevada’s problems.

“If it’s any comfort to Nevadans,” Boyd said, “there will be company.”

One of the state’s economic problems is the highest foreclosure rate in the country due to Southern Nevada. Carson City, however, has its own housing problems. The city has issued 12 house building permits this year as of August, compared with 33 for the same period last year, according to city developmental services.

The number of home foreclosures this year is already the highest in the last decade at 86, according to the city assessor’s office. This is compared to 52 in 2007, 12 in 2006 and three in 2005.

The average selling prices of a home this year could end up being the lowest in four years, with the average price so far around $324,000, according to assessor’s office. The average price in Carson City hit its peak this decade in 2006 with the average sale around $346,000.

The unemployment rate is up from 6 percent in January 2007 to 6.8 percent in August 2008, according to the state.

Like hurting states in the institute’s report, Carson City has been hit hard by slow business. Sales tax revenue from Carson City, according to the most recent report from the state, was down 10.6 percent from July 2007 to July 2008 and down 17.9 percent from January 2007 to January 2008.

This fall has been led by slow auto sales and has caused the city government to leave dozens of jobs unfilled to cut $3 million for its budget for this fiscal year.

But there are some bright spots.

The city has already seen about $32 million of licensed commercial work so far this year compared to about $28 million during all of 2007.

Mervyns department store and valve manufacturer Parker Hannifin will close this year, costing the city more than 100 jobs, but Bodines casino, Home Depot and Burlington Coat Factory have all opened this year.

City government, one of the top employers in the city, avoided lay-offs by leaving vacant positions open and also saved about $3 million by pulling out of a risky securities lending pool, City Treasurer Al Kramer said.

Its portfolio will grow more than usual this year because of investments in safe treasuries people are running to buy because of the slow economy.

“I’d rather be lucky than good,” Kramer said.

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