Shifting state services to counties: Fee, tax increases for residents | NevadaAppeal.com

Shifting state services to counties: Fee, tax increases for residents

Sandi Hoover
shoover@nevadaappeal.com

Carson City residents may face as much as $30 in annual increases as a result of measures passed during the 2011 legislative session which shifted services from the state to the county, officials said Thursday.

The board of supervisors directed City Manager Larry Werner to look into a number of remedies – including franchise fee increases and a property tax hike – to deal with expected shortfalls of $1.1 million in 2012 and $1.2 million in 2013.

The city will look at increasing the Southwest Gas franchise fee by 1/2 percent, which would generate $151,111, and the NV Energy franchise fee by 1 percent, which would generate an accumulated $722,540. In addition, a 1 percent increase in the Carson City Utilities right-of-way toll would bring in $897,540, and an increase in environmental health fees would add $957,540.

A property tax increase, which cannot be implemented until 2013, could generate $2.6 million. Finance Director Nick Providenti said property tax rates in surrounding counties is 3.64, but Carson City’s is only 3.08.

He said today’s financial turmoil has been brewing for a number of years.

“We’ve been indicating this for the last three years, and we were told to use reserves before raising taxes or the cuts would be very draconian,” Providenti said.

Werner also is expected to go to the city’s labor groups with the hope that they will forego cost of living and merit raises for the employees they represent.

“The money is going to be gone for at least the next five years, so I need to go back to our labor organizations and (reiterate) that the world has changed. We need to freeze salaries and raise revenues so we won’t have to lay people off,” Werner said.

“If we don’t do anything, we’ll lose 10 bodies by next year to balance the budget,” he said.

Other counties that have no additional ability to tax face similar problems this year, Providenti said. Douglas is asking for 5 percent in salary cuts and Lyon is looking at a 40 percent reduction in staffing.

Supervisor Shelly Aldean suggested that a letter to the state might be in order to give counties more time to make the harsh transition and come up with budget solutions.

“We need to exhaust all our avenues with the state, which might buy us time,” she said.

Aldean also suggested that an open letter to the community be drafted explaining the city’s plight and seeking comments.

Supervisor John McKenna said that until the city’s reserve funds, which have been exhausted to balance general fund budgets in recent years, are replenished, he would be reluctant to approve any future construction projects such as the proposed multi-purpose activity center or downtown library.

Several other board members said, however, that capital improvement projects are needed to stimulate the economy, and that without a focus on quality of life such as these projects offer, Carson City would lose residents and opportunities for business recruitment.

Werner also was directed to build an economic development component into proposed capital projects.

The state assessment amounts will affect the city’s general fund, and those the state will impose during 2012 are broken down as follows:

• Medical Aid for the Aged, Blind and Disabled, $249,982

• Consumer Health Protection Inspections, $1,192

• Rural Development Services Costs, $252,116

• Youth Parole Services, $54,915

• Child Protective Services, $379,034

• Pre-sentence Investigations, $88,080

In addition, state funding was eliminated – to the tune of about $109,000 – for a number of programs the city may have to make up in dollars or do without.

In other action Thursday, supervisors:

• Approved a design concept for a Multi-purpose Activity Center (MAC) adjacent to the Boys & Girls Club, but held off hiring an architect to move ahead with the project until certain details could be presented such as a revised joint use agreement with the club and a proposed budget.

• Approved a contract for design services for a new Animal Control Facility which will include a needs assessment, site selection, program analysis, conceptual design, project estimated schedule and project construction cost estimates.

• Approved a revised Carson City Performance Scorecard linking performance measurements to various objectives.

• Approved an updated city investment policy.

• Approved a zoning change to property located south of Northridge Drive and east of Roop Street from single family 6000 to public community to allow a 625-square-foot portion of the 18-acre site to be developed for the proposed cellular communication facility for AT&T.

• Delayed action on an agreement between the Redevelopment Authority, Carson City and four properties within the Carson Quail Park Management Association for sales tax reimbursement to the property owner.

• Approved expenditure of funds to nonprofit organizations for 2011-12.

• As the Liquor and Entertainment Board, officials approved Rory Bedore as the liquor manager for the Carson Station Hotel/Casino, and heard a report from him on updates to the property.

COST PASSED DOWN

The state assessment amounts will affect the city’s general fund, and those the state will impose during 2012 are broken down as follows:

• Medical Aid for the Aged, Blind and Disabled, $249,982

• Consumer Health Protection Inspections, $1,192

• Rural Development Services Costs, $252,116

• Youth Parole Services, $54,915

• Child Protective Services, $379,034

• Pre-sentence Investigations, $88,080