Library leaves empty-handed in tight budget
Appeal Staff Writer
The winners and losers in Carson City’s annual budget battles were announced Thursday with initial approval of next year’s budget by the board of supervisors.
With a list of new expenses ranging from state and federal mandates to the maintenance of new neighborhood parks, and with about a half million dollars less to work with than expected due to a new property tax cap, few departments received exactly what they wanted from the $58 million budget.
“It’s not an easy thing, putting a spending plan together. There’s a lot of give and take,” said City Manager Linda Ritter.
There was no bigger loser than the Carson City Library, which made requests totaling $464,000 and received nothing.
It was the first time the library has come away from the yearly budget process completely empty handed, said library director Sally Edwards.
The request included more than $181,000 for books and other inventory, more than $74,000 for converting some employees from part-time to full-time and $205,000 to extend hours of operation.
The library is one agency the city isn’t mandated by law to fund and its operation isn’t as critical to the city as, say, law enforcement or utilities, so it often falls to the bottom tier of priorities, said Ritter.
The city is still working to find money for more books, though, Ritter said. In order to qualify for some federal dollars, the library must bring in a certain amount from the city.
In all, city departments requested supplemental budget money totaling nearly $1 million a year, but the city had just $402,000 to go around. Of eight new staffers requested citywide, three and a half made the cut – the half representing a part-time employee.
Building projects and equipment purchases totaling about $3.1 million were funded, including $1 million to start a new, $12 million sheriff’s building and nearly $900,000 to replace city vehicles, including a dozen new patrol cars for about $360,000.
The city replaces patrol cars every three years. The vehicles were on a six-year replacement cycle, but City Engineer Larry Werner said the mileage put on the vehicles increases maintenance costs and lowers their resale value so dramatically it’s about $2,300 per vehicle cheaper to trade cars in on new models every three years. It would be slightly cheaper still to replace them every 18 months, he said.
Supervisors approved the overall $58 million budget, about $300,000 more than this year’s, just as Ritter had proposed it, with one exception. Mayor Marv Teixeira directed Ritter to find $100,000 to battle the use of methamphetamine in Carson City.
“I don’t care where it comes from,” he said.
Tackling the topic of meth use is No. 1 on the city’s list of goals this year. The city has already held two workshops to discuss the problem of amphetamines and an education campaign is planned for later this year.
n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.
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