Scene In Passing: Public’s voices heard; true arbiter up soon |

Scene In Passing: Public’s voices heard; true arbiter up soon

John Barrette

Public input in triplicate is on the table. After the Board of Supervisors hears a bit more and chews on it, even digesting some, decision day comes later this month.

After a trio of town halls, everyone who cares about it knows that decision is over whether to hike city sales tax a sliver to spruce up business corridors, build an athletic center and help finance an animal shelter. The tax slice isn’t huge. It’s $25 more from consumers who spend $20,000 to purchase taxable goods over time. Undoubtedly some more testimony will come on D-day, which is Feb. 20.

Taxed enough already isn’t just the way tea party advocates feel about this; some coffee klatchers also wonder why more tax revenue is being sought — again.

On the other hand, observing politics and government for a lifetime tells me this eighth-of-a-penny in city sales tax authority will be used in Carson City, either for these projects now or for something else later. City residents spurned the City Center library project in 2012. City leaders may or may not spurn this, too, given that a four-vote supermajority is needed. But the taxing authority left will be used; make book on it.

Opponents see the plans as ill conceived. They likely would agree with Mark Twain, a 19th century resident of these parts, who said: “Civilization is the multiplication of unnecessary necessities.”

Supporters, however, see the upgrades and building proposals instead as overdue progress.

With ample opinions being shared, it still should be remembered the decision is actually up to the five folks on the city’s governing board. Carson City chose them to decide. That’s their job, not just pleasing people. Check out a pertinent opinion from Edmund Burke, 18th century Irish orator, author and member Britain’s parliament.

“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion,” said Burke.

Keep that counsel in mind also when the board next month begins winnowing applicants for Carson City’s next city manager. Several will remain after the initial search pool is cut, and interested residents will get a chance to know them a little. At least that’s the current approach. Perhaps favorites will emerge among various city constituencies.

But voters elected Mayor Robert Crowell and Supervisors John McKenna, Karen Abowd, Brad Bonkowski and Jim Shirk. So they will pick the city’s next chief staff executive. The person chosen will shoulder one of the toughest jobs in modern politics and government. City managers must pull off a high wire balancing act.

They must deal with city staff, a board that changes membership over time, and residents who disagree — just as is true now over pressure to tax and spend on proposals pushed under the banner of progress.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at