The economic storm | NevadaAppeal.com

The economic storm

Nevada Appeal editorial board

The work unveiled last night by a group of our fellow citizens is the culmination of much vision and work on behalf of Carson City.

The Carson City Economic Vitality Strategic Plan is the official name of the effort. This effort was envisioned by city leaders to solicit ideas and recommendations from the community in developing a strategic plan for economic health. We think it’s smart and necessary for the city to plan ahead and make moves within the framework of strategy.

It’s necessary because the city — our capital city — is in the middle of a big fight for nothing less than our future. One immediate concern is sales tax revenue.

City Manager John Berkich describes it as “the perfect storm.” The city needs sales tax revenues to sustain and improve services for city residents as well as all those people living outside Carson City’s boundaries who also use those services. This means libraries, fire protection, streets, social services, police, and all the other things that make up a city.

In this storm, though, other places get the rain and Carson City starts to dry up. Every dollar we spend outside the city doesn’t contribute to the city sales tax coffers. Statistics show many people shop regularly in Reno, where one storm cloud resides.

But the immediate concern of sales tax revenue has more to do with Douglas County, the lightning on the horizon. Douglas County is organized to lure Carson City businesses (like Wal-Mart) over the county line. It has the land and the will to make it happen. Carson City doesn’t have as much available land, and city officials believe they need the authority and support of the citizenry to make it happen.

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We like the public’s business to be conducted in public. At the same time, we know city leaders often need to court and negotiate with retailers in order to keep them from moving or locating elsewhere. Indeed, the city must be proactive and pursue retailers with a vengeance — and as long as they do so in a manner which engages the citizenry, they deserve total support from all of us.

Carson City cannot survive an exodus of major sales-tax contributors. We would become an affordable housing project for all those people working retail in Douglas County. Property values could drop. City services may be much reduced. This proud capital city faces the very real possibility that it becomes the poor and neglected relative to surrounding areas. This isn’t some remote theory like the possibility of an asteroid hit. This threat is as real as they come. It’s time that we all face this reality.

The strategic recommendations come from your fellow citizens who generously gave their time and expertise to develop them. They deserve your support. The greater battle will be fought by elected city leaders and managers. They know that many of the battles they’ll be fighting in this war will draw criticism, maybe even from this newspaper.

However, it’s important to them that we all realize the stakes are high and we do need them to join the fight for the sake of the future of our city.