Train of thought: Carson Convention and Visitors Bureau to weigh future of V&T Railroad

Published Caption: Courtesy of V&T Railroad

Published Caption: Courtesy of V&T Railroad

The Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau meets Monday to begin laying out its future, including whether or not it should continue to be involved in operating the V&T Railroad.

"The previous board told the bureau they wanted us out of the train business by the end of 2012," Director Candy Duncan said.

But the new board, she said, gave them a "vote of confidence that they were doing a good job running the train and that they want us to stay involved with the train."

The board will talk about whether CVB should stay involved in the V&T operation and, if so, for how long.

Duncan said that Monday's agenda item is just the beginning. She said there also will be discussion of how to pay for increased activities to draw visitors to the capital.

Duncan said specifically there has been discussion of raising Carson City's room tax rate from 10 percent to 10.5 percent.

"We could definitely use the money to help support field maintenance and improvements for the tournaments everybody likes," she said. "Everybody around us (the other counties) is at 13 percent."

She said the new Events Committee also could use some money.

"All the people they are going after for events may want money for marketing, etc.," she said.

But Duncan said the discussion is just that, and no action will be taken. She said she expects the board to order a workshop in the future to get more input on where CVB should be headed.

Focusing on activities other than the V&T would better suit some of the lodging properties that have been arguing that CVB has no business running the train.

"The train does not generate any business for the lodging properties," said Linda Barnett of Hampton Inns at the north end of town. "We have not been able to identify any room nights the train generates."

Barnett said CVB "needs to be out selling other things that bring in business."

Barnett has been a supporter of the youth sports events the capital brings in, saying they generate room nights and, therefore, more room tax revenue.

Duncan said that's the discussion the board needs to have - where to focus its energy and limited cash.

There are two items on Monday's agenda that deal with the train: the two resolutions that will implement the actions her board took Feb. 14.

The first is to bring back the Polar Express. The second will transfer $60,000 from the CVB to Carson City to cover the projected sales tax shortfall and ensure that the city can make the $1.1 million annual V&T bond payments.

The V&T operating budget projects income and other revenue totaling $497,753 but expenses of $605,945, a loss of $108,192.

But Duncan told the board in February that the Polar Express is projected to make a $164,132 profit, leaving the train $55,940 in the black at the end of the year.

The meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday in the Sierra Room in the Community Center.


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