Mayor Marv Teixeira: Why you should vote for the V&T
To begin, let me state that I fully understand, with the economic challenges we are all facing, what a difficult time this is to ask, you, the voters, to implement a tax. Though this tax is very small, has a payback provision as well as a sunset provision and will have a significant positive economic impact for Carson City for years to come, now is not the most practical time for any tax increase. Unfortunately, circumstances dictate the funding for the project’s future must be decided on now. Yes ” I have unabashed enthusiasm for this project, perhaps too much. However, this project is not about my personal passion. This project represents a “ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME” opportunity to reconstruct a major historic treasure with lasting value, not only for the residents of Carson City and Northern Nevada, but for the entire state.
When asked the question, “Marv, in your 12 years as mayor of Carson City, what is your biggest disappointment?,” without question, it was the loss of the V&T Roundhouse, where all the V&T rolling stock was repaired. This magnificent structure was demolished in my second year as mayor and all the cut stone went to a Napa Valley winery. The city did manage to purchase two arches that are stored in the city’s corporate yard. This structure was one of the most historic in Carson City, and now it is forever gone. As a community and state, we had 35 years to save this building, but we did nothing. Collectively, we had not the vision nor the commitment to save this historic building, invest in it and use it for future economic benefit. Of course, that is hindsight and shame on all of us.
Well, the opportunity to save another important part of our history has presented itself to us. The reconstruction of the V&T Railway, known as the most famous short-line railroad in the world, is on its way to being two-thirds completed. The community has the option to stop now, not knowing when it will start again. Or we can expand our investment, this time with a pay back provision, and complete the most scenic part of the railroad through the canyon. This will leave only two miles to complete. It is up to you, the voters of Carson City.
Key issues the voters need to know are: 1) this 1/8 percent sales tax will cost the average household approximately $12 a year; 2) 30 percent of the revenue it produces will be paid by non-residents and tourists; and 3) the tax will sunset by the year 2020 or before.
With the additional revenue derived from the tax, the city will bond $10 million to be used by the V&T Railway Commission to build the construction phase through the canyon. This will ensure that construction of the railway will not stop but continue on to Carson City.
For our community’s additional investment, Carson City will receive 5 percent of the gross ridership revenue for 99 years. The amount of this revenue will be approximately $300,000 to $400,000 a year, equating to $25 million to $35 million to Carson City over the 99 years. This annual ridership revenue will be in addition to the millions of dollars in sales, gaming, room and gas taxes that the train will generate.
The ridership revenue will come only to Carson City, and it’s important to note, the revenue will not go to the city’s general fund to pay salaries. It can only be used for youth and senior programs, culture and arts, parks and recreation and libraries, etc. Funding decisions will be made annually by the Board of Supervisors with input from the community.
The most frequently asked question I hear is “If this is such a good deal, why hasn’t the private sector invested in the train?” When the initial feasibility study was completed, it was made clear that the railroad, once built, would easily sustain itself if there was no debt service. Since the private sector would not receive any of the millions of dollars in tax revenue the railroad will generate, it would be cost prohibitive to invest $50-plus million dollars. Additionally, a group of investors would not invest $10 million for 5 percent of the gross ridership fees. They would not see a return on their investment for three or four years and then it would only be 3 to 4 percent. Also remember that 30 percent of the $10 million Carson City is providing will be paid by non-residents and tourists.
There is nothing now, or on the horizon, like the V&T Railway construction project. The railway will be an attraction that will bring 150,000 tourists annually from all over the world to Carson City. This tourism boost will create over 200 new permanent jobs and provide an increased permanent revenue stream to our community. The V&T Railway theme will stimulate related development opportunities. The V&T project has been expensive, but it will be built correctly and built to last.
Once again, I know these are tough times, but we cannot let this opportunity pass. We need to invest now, to rebuild our past, to ensure our future.
I sincerely thank you,