Supervisor candidate forum focuses on future
October 19, 2006
Questions about downtown, how development should be managed and, of course, taxes were among subjects of interest to audience members during a political forum Thursday at the Brewery Arts Center for Carson City supervisorial candidates.
When asked how each believed the state property tax cap would impact the city’s ability to raise revenues and pay for services, they offered a variety of responses and solutions.
“It will constrain us” and force elected officials to be “very clear on priorities,” said Tom Keeton, challenger for the Ward 1 seat.
He would try to encourage developers to build higher-end properties around the city because the owner of an expensive home pays more taxes than the person in a less expensive home, for example.
And “don’t put the burden on current residents,” he said.
The tax cap has cost the city $2 million since it was enacted, said Supervisor Robin Williamson, Ward 1 incumbent.
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“We have to generate more sales tax revenue,” she said, adding that she envisions the city to continue working toward becoming a “lean, mean sales tax generating machine.”
“Continued growth of economic development” is crucial in this type of circumstance, as is careful attention to spending, said Supervisor Pete Livermore, Ward 3 incumbent.
“The people have spoken and they told us we have to live within our means,” said Neil Weaver, challenger for the Ward 3 seat. What’s needed will be “unconventional answers” to solve the funding questions.
When asked about the plans for downtown and the narrowing of a section of Carson Street running through it once the freeway is complete, Williamson said the changes are exciting and the reason “why I’m running for re-election.”
Once the freeway is complete and the city is able to modify Roop and Stewart streets, the area will be reinvented. Engineers say the street narrowing will work, she said.
The city and community must “make it a downtown we can be proud of and enjoy,” Livermore said. He has questions about how the objectives will be achieved and expects answers. Residents should expect their questions be answered and “I hope you people keep reminding us that we need to provide the answers,” he said.
Both challengers have reservations about plans for downtown.
“The devil is in the details,” Weaver said. The six-story buildings being envisioned and streetside seating for diners that will only be suitable for a few months a year are only a few of the problems.
While downtown “is the heart of the city” and “needs to be honored I’m not sure how we’re going to pay” for the changes necessary to make it more pedestrian friendly.
And Keeton was bothered by the plan for parallel parking on Carson Street in front of businesses.
“Go to Virginia City to see what it’ll be like with two lanes and parallel parking,” he said. “We don’t need this.”
Also on the mind of people at the forum was development. The incumbents both voted to allow the Clearview Ridge residential development on the south side of the city that would bring 75 homes to a 3.8-acre site.
“It was a hard decision,” Livermore explained. But when residents were helping to create the city master plan, they wanted mixed-use locations that were near shopping.
That same master plan explains that residents didn’t want to extend the city’s boundaries and that development should focus on vacant parcels, Williamson said.
People seem to not mind these types of housing areas in the city but will say they don’t want it on a lot “next to me,” she said.
“They failed the people,” Weaver said of the decision.
“I’ll always support neighborhood people,” Keeton said. “I like developers but they have to be controlled.”
The event was hosted by the Northern Nevada League of Women Voters and co-sponsored by the Nevada Appeal. It was videotaped for rebroadcast on cable access channel 26.