Jim Shirk guest commentary: Find road money in Carson City coffers
In response to the guest column written by Brad Bonkowski and Lori Bagwell, “$100M just to get roads up to speed,” Nevada Appeal, June 15.
Their article was largely the scheme of “it ain’t us,” there just ain’t any money to fix the streets. They have the responsibility to do what they are paid to do. And, that is to find solutions like they did when they collaborated to have Colorado Street fixed a few years ago.
The commentary mentioned a $7 million grant funding allowing for improvement to replace and improve water, sewer lines and storm drain infrastructure on South Carson Street. Shouldn’t that free up funding in our city budget that was designated for these improvements? That dollar amount will most likely remain a mystery.
Each board member should be looking out for the constituents they represent and want to ensure that their area gets equal amount of funding for street repair. With that said, can staff provide the amount of funding spent in each ward in the last three years?
What is greatly shocking in their guest column is they both complain they, along with staff, hear about street repair most often. I would suspect the majority of the community has never contacted either of them or staff about street repair. However, they neglected to inform citizens of the procedure to report damaged streets — why? Is it because they don’t want to hear from the 99% who have never contacted them? Meanwhile they cite numerous issues on why there are no funds to fix streets within the community even blaming citizens for not approving a tax measure.
To find the funding, suppose 3% of the budget were cut from every city department that would raise $30,000 per million and how many millions is the over all city budget? A lot of millions.
With all the new housing developments why not impose a tax levied upon these for each homeowner vehicle parking space provided within complex. Who would object to taxing those moving into our community, for funds that will only be used for street repair?
If you want to look for street funding within our city budget, check out overtime and salary expenses. Regardless of the department, if the city can afford to pay overtime funds to employees then the city should match that funding paid for overtime into street repair funds, or eliminate all overtime from all city departments.
If the city is giving pay raises, hiring additional staff, or buying equipment using taxpayers money all the while our streets are failing, something doesn’t seem right.
Bonkowski has been on the Regional Transportation Commission for six years and is the chairperson. Now six years later he informs the community — we got no money to fix streets.
If there is no funding available to improve our streets, why waste taxpayers’ money on lengthy Regional Transportation Commission meetings, why not just call it to order, approve all agenda items and then adjourn?
Bonkowski and Bagwell need to make inquiries into the city budget and find savings for street repair. First do your duty before you come asking citizens to fork over money to fix streets. When you can prove at a board meeting that all avenues of discovery have been attempted to adjust funding from the city budget to street repair, and you disclose the amount of funding you have acquired though this, then write your next guest column updating citizens. When you do, please don’t ask citizens, “are we willing to pay?” That is that most asinine statement ever made by two Republican politicians.
Jim Shirk, a former Carson City board of supervisor, is a husband, father, grandfather and citizen.