Mayor Bob Crowell outlines 2013 in State of the City address
City sales tax receipts are up, landfill revenues are down, and the mayor awaits Nevada’s budget to see if city government’s fiscal future in part stays a state hostage. That capsule of Mayor Robert Crowell’s state of Carson City speech Tuesday reflects fiscal facts, but he added the city faces challenges that city government and private sector people can overcome.“From a city budget point of view,” Crowell told a Chamber of Commerce breakfast audience of 100 at the Gold Dust West, “sales taxes are generating about $600,000 more than budgeted, and property taxes are coming in about as projected.”Landfill revenues, however, are down $500,000 because South Lake Tahoe, Calif., moved into recycling of construction and demolition debris, which decreased the take at Carson City’s landfill. Crowell offered an optimistic viewpoint in looking forward to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s state budget proposal, which he expects to see today.He voiced the “possibility that there will be sufficient revenues in the state Health and Human Resources Department that some of the 2011 push-downs could be reversed…”If that works out, Crowell said city government could be relieved of “somewhere in the neighborhood of $475,000 previously billed to us by the state.” The mayor said any ascending city income, by virtue of a resolution adopted last year, will boost reserves from 5 percent to 8.3 percent, then go for a contingency fund of $500,000, and other funds for infrastructure repair, equipment replacement and a stabilization fund. Crowell also reiterated his preference for a pedestrian-friendly downtown during his talk in replying to a question on downtown parking, and added that staff is refining plans and looking for financing regarding possible Carson Street changes. The Board of Supervisors will take that up later this year when staff offers specific plans, but with two new supervisors the question of prospective two-lane traffic and parallel parking on Carson Street remains unsettled.Crowell also focused in his speech on capital improvement needs.“We are now reaching the point,” he said, “where some major capital improvements must be considered lest we fall into the trap of ‘pay me now or pay me a whole lot more later.’” He cited a need for repairs to an aging sewer plant and other major infrastructure, such as roads, and said supervisors must find a way to “thread the needle” with the most cost-effective and least intrusive method of handling such responsibilities. Crowell cited evidence Carson City is emerging from recession to recovery mode, and talked of building a multi-athletic facility near the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Nevada structure with Quality of Life bond money. He added that Carson City’s bond debt requirements are being met, so the community’s credit rating “remains very good.”The mayor also praised city open space lands progress, said the freeway bypass completion date is “around 2016” and noted Western Nevada College needs help in remaining viable through regional ties.In addition, he cited the value of sports tourism and general tourism, mentioning the Virginia & Truckee Railway.But he also cited, in answer to a question, the prohibitive cost to extending the V&T to the old Nevada State Prison. He put extension costs at $20 million-per-mile. Crowell remained upbeat despite the challenges on the horizon. “We can do these things together,” he said.The mayor’s appearance played to good reviews from both public and private sector members of the audience. Most said it was good, and one of the new supervisors went one better.“Right on target,” said Brad Bonkowski, a real estate agent whose first board meeting is Thursday.