Tax hike done deal; city manager next |

Tax hike done deal; city manager next

John Barrette
Stacey Giomi

Carson City’s sales-tax increase for capital projects cleared the last hurdle Thursday, and the Board of Supervisors immediately turned to the task of choosing a new city manager.

Formal interviews start this morning in a public meeting at the Community Center; board members and the five candidates to head city staff spent Thursday afternoon meeting in one-on-one sessions privately, which allowed informal questions and discussions. One of the major tasks the winning candidate will tackle is overseeing what should prove to be a drawn-out process of capital projects under the tax hike adopted in final form Thursday morning.

“I am not in favor of this tax going through,” said Supervisor Jim Shirk, sticking with his opposition until the end. It was the fourth time the board voted 4-1 in favor of the one-eighth-of-a-penny hike, which will cost consumers $12.50 more for each $10,000 in taxable goods purchased. The tally was such a forgone conclusion that no one testified for or against the ordinance this time, though some proponents watched from the crowd.

Mayor Robert Crowell and Supervisors Karen Abowd, Brad Bonkowski and John McKenna supported the plan in February and March, when it was first approved, and again the past two weeks when it cleared first reading and was adopted once again Thursday because a notification glitch required the second go-round to assure it got done by the book. The glitch was caught by bond counsel.

Bonds amounting to some $17 million can be issued under the plan of expenditure and ordinance, which names and specifies the projects but doesn’t contain all the details of each capital improvement involved.

The projcts include a multipurpose athletic center, an animal shelter, downtown streetscape changes to make the business core pedestrian-friendly, other Carson Street and East William Street improvements outside downtown, and a Community Center upgrade to help improve cultural use of the Bob Boldrick Theater.

The tax hike to underpin the bonds and projects, which is expected to raise $900,000 to $1 million annually, required support from a supermajority, or four votes. That rendered Shirk’s effort to change the program insufficient. That wouldn’t stop him from making other efforts to shape the projects going forward, he said.

“I will make sure I play a role,” he said.

He reiterated, for example, he wants the athletic center in Mills Park rather than near the Boys & Girls Clubs. Another situation that could prove contentious, though it wasn’t raised Thursday, is whether downtown Carson Street will become one lane each way or remain two lanes both north and south. The current favored city staff plan calls for cutting down to a lane each way, but the board will approve final details later.

The five city manager candidates, meanwhile, were on hand Thursday for the one-on-one afternoon sessions conducted at the Community Center and City Hall.

The candidates are Jeff Fontaine, Nevada Association of Counties; Stacey Giomi, Carson City fire chief; Tim Hacker, former North Las Vegas city manager; Nick Marano, a consultant and former Marine Colonel who ran Camp Pendleton, and Jim Nichols, formerly assistant city manager in Midland, Texas, and deputy city manger in Las Vegas.

Formal and structured interviews beginning at 8:30 a.m. today during a meeting in the Sierra Room at the Community Center will last nearly an hour each. They will not be televised on the community-access channel immediately so no candidate gets an edge on what questions he will face. The meeting is public, and the taped interviews will be broadcast on a delayed basis.

The board is expected, after the interviews, to choose a top candidate and a backup, after which negotiations will begin with the city manager-designate. The salary range is $140,000 to $180,000 annually.