Supervisors move to protect an asset |

Supervisors move to protect an asset

Nevada Appeal editorial board

It’s called protecting your assets, and Carson City leaders and auto dealers are playing for some high stakes in their agreement last week which they hope will lead to development of an “auto mall” somewhere inside the city limits.

For the city, the stakes are a huge chunk of sales-tax revenues. Sales of cars and trucks have remained strong, even as other retail sales have stayed flat or moved across the line to Douglas County.

For auto dealers Michael Hohl and Dink Cryer, the deal allows them to proceed with a $14.6 million purchase of federal land in northern Douglas County. It also means they’re planning for the future in a highly competitive business. Rivalry among the dealers in Carson City is one thing, but a well-planned auto mall can greatly increase their prospects for competing against dealers in Reno and elsewhere.

For Carson City taxpayers, protecting the sales-tax base means they will be less likely to have to choose between higher property taxes or scaled-back services.

The agreement reached Thursday has as its most immediate effect the dropping of a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management intended to block the sale of 144 acres. Carson City supervisors’ biggest concern was development of an auto mall there.

Dropping the lawsuit could also have the broadest effect, too, because we hope Carson City and Douglas County leaders can begin to put some of the rancor behind them. Until the two reach some level of understanding and trust, there will be little or no planning for one of the key areas of Northern Nevada.

And that’s what Carson and Douglas need to be doing – planning for a decade in which the freeway finally will be finished and in which Lyon County growth will outstrip both of the neighbors.

The agreement bought city leaders two years in which Hohl and Cryer won’t build an auto mall on the 144-acre parcel. That’s not much time, if the lack of progress over the past two years is any indication.

Carson City residents have little inkling what will be expected of them in return for the auto-dealer agreement, other than a “reasonable economic development incentive package,” so it’s a bit difficult to evaluate its merit. If the deal turns into anything like the $27.5 million subsidy proposed earlier this year, there will be many questions to consider.

For now, though, the agreement has removed significant roadblocks to progress on two fronts. Approving it was a good move by supervisors.