Proposal: Raise property tax for public safety
Appeal Staff Writer
City fire and sheriff’s departments want to ask voters to increase property tax rates to
raise $8 million for staff and equipment they say they need to keep the city safe.
The Carson City Board of Supervisors will vote Thursday on whether to put the question on the November ballot.
A study by a committee organized by supervisors last year suggests raising rates in increments over the next three years, which would cost the owner of a $250,000 house about $200 extra a year.
The $2 million or more for the sheriff’s department would help police keep up with the city as it grows, officials said, but the $6 million for the fire department is needed immediately.
“We’re in pretty tough predicament right now,” Fire Chief Stacey Giomi said.
Emergency calls have jumped during the past years, he said, while the time it takes the department to respond also has increased.
The committee’s study pointed out the department’s daily staff is smaller per capita than many Northern Nevada cities as well as the national average.
The department has agreements for mutual aid with surrounding counties, Giomi said, but outside fire departments were sent to incidents in Carson City 250 times last year.
“That’s them coming here to handle a call we could not handle,” he said.
More than half of the money collected would go to a new fire station on Carson’s northwest side. The city’s fourth station, according to Giomi, is needed to relieve strain on the northside Airport Road station, which handles the most calls in the city, and to track forest fires.
Other major costs would be a fourth ambulance, a fourth fire engine team and a community education coordinator.
More staff to monitor traffic, gangs and the jail for the city in the future are some of the major areas where sheriff’s department wants to use its money.
“This isn’t about today,” Furlong said. “It’s about the long-term stability and safety of the community.”
Crime overall in the city did drop significantly between 2000 and 2006, but graffiti, traffic citations and incidents at the jail specifically have risen in the past few years.
The city has fewer police per capital than all surrounding counties except Lyon County, according to the committee’s study.
Supporters of the property tax increase don’t have a specific plan for how it should be implemented yet, said City Manager Larry Werner, but they will develop one if supervisors approve putting the question on the ballot.
The committee suggested raising the property tax rate between 23 and 30 cents, which would still be lower than rates in Reno, Sparks, Minden, Gardnerville, Yerington and Fallon.
– Contact reporter Dave Frank at email@example.com or 881-1212.