Good, bad budget news
April 11, 2002
The good news is Carson City supervisors didn’t raise the property tax to balance their budget.
The bad news is they raised an assortment of utility fees instead.
But there remains a bit of good news in their creative approach to making ends meet. In the end, for many residents, the increase should cost about $3 less a year than if supervisors had raised property taxes by the allowed 6 percent.
No one wants to pay more to support government, and the additional fees will cost residents an average of about $16 a year.
Mayor Ray Masayko was among those who opposed the utility-fee increases, noting they would come out of everybody’s pocket — not just property owners. But his suggestion, to spend down the city’s reserves, wasn’t appealing either.
All in all, though, we have a hard time finding fault in the supervisors’ handling of next year’s budget.
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From a long list of requests, the supervisors generally whittled away the least-important items and stuck to priorities. In fact, if times were fat, they could have found many more projects and positions — especially in public safety and the Carson City Library — worthy of taxpayer dollars.
But these are lean times. The supervisors needed to budget conservatively. And aside from a lapse with its public information team — giving $10,000 that would have been much better spent by any of a number of community-service agencies — supervisors left little on the plate.
The city’s management team needs to keep a close eye on expenses during the year.
A healthy rebound by the economy could mean higher-than-expected sales tax revenue. If so, the temptation will be to spend it — but the better approach would be to fatten the city’s reserve account.
Next year, perhaps the supervisors will be able to hold the line on taxes and fees and still be able to satisfy some of the needs of city departments. With a solid reserve fund, those decisions become quite a bit easier.