Vote to release conservation bonds delayed |

Vote to release conservation bonds delayed

Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

Voter-approved bonds to pay for wildlife, park, environmental and conservation projects were put on hold Wednesday at the request of Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio.

Raggio, R-Reno, pointed out that the bonds would increase property taxes almost a penny statewide.

“Let’s defer this until we know more definitely where we are on the tax plan,” he said.

In addition, he said, he wants the state lands division to provide lawmakers with more information about the projects they and local governments are planning for the bond money.

The Senate half of the Interim Finance Committee voted to put off releasing the first $6 million worth of the bond money until its May meeting. That prompted the Assembly Ways and Means Committee to do the same.

Bonding up to $200 million was approved last November by voters as Question 1. The bond money includes $27 million for property acquisition, improvements and renovations by state parks, $27.5 million for a similar variety of projects under control of the Wildlife Division, $25 million for Las Vegas Springs and wildlife habitat in the Las Vegas Wash as well as $35 million for a museum at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve.

There would also be $10 million for restoration and enhancement of the Truckee River corridor.

The remaining $65.5 million would be used for grants to state agencies, local governments and private nonprofit groups for recreational trails, urban parks, habitat conservation and other similar projects.

The money must be released by the committee before the bonds can be issued. Wednesday’s agenda was for permission to issue the first $6 million worth of bond money.

State Lands Administrator Pam Wilcox said the delay isn’t a big problem because the state is planning a series of public meetings on how to spend the bond money. She said those meetings will help get the information on specific projects Raggio wants for his committee.

Once the bonding program is under way, she said, she plans to ask about $12 million of the state share each of the next five years.