Roads plan is high priority for Carson City manager
In June, the Board of Supervisors conducted Carson City Manager Nick Marano’s annual review, which included direction on what to tackle in the new fiscal year.
Last week, at a meeting dominated by more controversial items, the board approved a dozen or so goals for the city manager, goals that are essentially a reflection of the city’s priorities.
Marano’s plate is full.
One goal is to develop a maintenance plan for streets, including funding for it.
“Problems have solutions. This is a predicament because there is no easy solution to it,” said Marano.
For road work the city relies primarily on the gas tax, and collects only about 20 percent of what it needs to maintain its streets — $1.5 million versus more than $5 million.
The city implemented two programs to extend the life of its roads, wide crack sealing, which is already operating, and citywide patching, which is being put out to contract now.
“But in many cases we really need to do reconstruction and that’s where there are funding challenges,” Marano said.
Marano will be enlisting the city’s new transportation manager, Lucia Maloney, who was most recently a transportation planning manager working for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
His goals for her are to improve efficiency when possible, determine the best use of the city’s maintenance dollar, and look for other opportunities for resources.
In the end, though, Marano said it’s a problem to be solved by the federal and state government as it affects cities and towns nationwide.
“They are going to need to take the lead for determining a new revenue model for streets,” he said.
Another big project will be reviewing city municipal code.
Marano said he will likely start with Title 18, the part of the code that covers zoning and land use planning.
“It covers things that make a community what it is,” said Marano. “I think it is the most impactful code in most people’s lives. It gets at priorities and determines what gets developed and how.”
Marano thinks Title 18 may require a complete overhaul, but can be accomplished without a master plan update.
Related to that is the Planning Commission.
The supervisors want a report on ways other cities appoint the commission and qualifications Carson City may require of commissioners in the future, such as a background in planning, design or engineering.
The commission is one of two boards who make their own decisions, without solely making recommendations to the supervisors, and can be a time-consuming, daunting responsibility.
“When you have a room full of people opposed to a project and the code and law is telling you it should be approved, that’s a hard vote for the average citizen to make,” he said.
A time-consuming goal for Marano may be moving to priority-based budgeting.
“It will take the better part of the budget year to do it right,” he said.
The task will entail holding public workshops and online polls to determine how Carson City residents want the city’s revenue spent as well as several retreats with the supervisors to glean their priorities and ongoing internal discussion with departments.
“We want as big a sample (of opinions) as we can get. We need a scientific sample,” he said.
Marano is also tasked this year with crafting a request for proposal for trash collection.
The city’s existing contract with Waste Management Inc., expires in a year and staff is investigating single-stream recycling.
Waste Management has already indicated it would require mandatory trash pickup in order to get equipped to provide the additional service.
But roughly 10-20 percent of residents take care of their trash on their own, hauling it to the landfill, said Marano.
The city has learned lessons from Washoe County’s recent change in trash collection and is working with a consultant to write the RFP.
Marano is also working on something entirely new: a CarsonProud Clean Up day.
The impetus is to get residents and businesses to clean up yards and homes. It may include a citywide one-day flea market, possibly in the parking lot of Mills Park, where people can sell their clutter or dispose of it for free at the end of the day if unsold.
Another day large trash bins would be located throughout the city and everyone encouraged to weed and clean up their yards.
Marano will also consider what to do with about $450,000 annually in redevelopment funds once the incentive for Michael Hohl Motor Co. ends in a few years.
“Could we purchase some of the motels and bulldoze them? Is that an appropriate use?” said Marano. “We could purchase the blighted properties, knock them down and sell the lots. That has crossed my mind.”
For now, the city is continuing its inspection of extended stay motels started late last year and will begin proceedings to suspend or revoke business licenses of non-compliant motels.
And another goal for Marano is establish a food service manager program as a requirement for a restaurant’s business license and to change the way restaurants are graded.
“I was in Squaw Valley this weekend and in Placer County. A green bordered card equals a pass and its posted in every restaurant window,” said Marano. “I think that’s a good way to do it.”