Plan for new open-space worker shelved | NevadaAppeal.com

Plan for new open-space worker shelved

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

The idea of Carson City adding an employee to handle open-space related duties was shelved after officials received complaints from residents.

The proposal was part of the Open Space Advisory Committee’s agenda last week, but the item was removed before the meeting, said Roger Moellendorf, the city’s parks and recreation director.

Supervisor Shelly Aldean said she only found out about it by reading a newspaper article that ran Monday, the day of the meeting.

“It surprised me,” she said.

Aldean also said she would have liked to have been briefed about the proposal a day or more before the meeting.

Though the topic was part of the open space program’s long-range planning, “the perception is that we’re hiring people even though we’re having trouble making ends meet,” she said.

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“I put a stop to it,” said Mayor Marv Teixeira, who also said he received calls from people opposed to the concept because of the city’s current financial concerns. “It wasn’t appropriate.”

The position would be paid for using money from the city’s open space fund. That operation, part of the parks department, receives its money from Question 18 revenue and is financially separate from other city functions.

Juan Guzman, program manager, oversees the city’s natural resources. He seeks and applies for grants to acquire and maintain these areas. An additional employee would focus on day-to-day land management.

The city controls about 410 acres of open space and preserve. Several acquisitions expected to occur within the next couple of years will increase that by another 2,400 acres. The proposed federal lands bill could add 6,000 acres, though not all would be considered permanent open space because much eventually will be used for other purposes.

The idea for hiring an employee to take care of these matters came up during creation of the Unified Pathways Master Plan, approved earlier this year by the Board of Supervisors. The position couldn’t be created without approval of the supervisors, Moellendorf said.

Lower revenues and increased need may leave the city facing financial shortfalls during the next 18 months. In the first quarter of 2007, projections indicate the city will take in 7 percent less tax revenue than during the same period in 2006: $5.6 million versus $6 million.

“It was poor timing,” Moellendorf admitted. Though it’s a future need, “it became a flash point.”

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.