Board searching for capital needs funds

A preliminary version of Carson City’s next government budget adds just one full-time worker and is based on estimated revenues of $62.3 million next year.

The Board of Supervisors Thursday reviewed the tentative spending blueprint, which basically calls for flat expenditures in the general fund of more than $59 million, plus a 5 percent year-end balance at the close of the Fiscal Year 2013-14 that begins July 1. Full-time equivalent employees would number 417. The budget gets finalized in May.

City staff also presented options for additional revenues if the property tax rate were boosted, from $3.56 to either $3.61 or $3.66 per $100 assessed value. However, supervisors sounded out staff regarding funds for general capital needs, at least at this point, by means other than a tax hike.

They did so despite an appearance by Sheriff Ken Furlong, before their deliberations began, in which he said city revenue would help take care of some stockpiled needs to replace equipment and the like.

“This bucket of capital needs is filling up very rapidly,” said Furlong, noting the economic recession took a heavy toll.

Deferred maintenance keeps getting deferred, and the only general fund capital money is $115,000 to re-roof the library, $100,000 to eventually buy an ambulance and a bit more money for troublesome breakdowns as they happen.

Finance Director Nick Providenti, who said if property taxes go up they are capped by law at 3 percent or less, was joined by City Manager Larry Werner in providing the budget presentation. Discussion also included non-general fund assumptions about rate hikes of 3 percent for water service and 10 percent for wastewater treatment, but those fall outside the general fund’s $62.3 million figure.

Supervisor Brad Bonkowski prefaced his comments on the main budget by acknowledging city employees and their unions cooperated during tough times.

“But what I see in black and white here is we still need some help,” he said. Bonkowski urged an overture to union representatives, plus other attempts to make the numbers work.

Providenti and Werner said they would try, but voiced skepticism about success. Werner said with up to a dime left before property tax rates hit an imposed ceiling, such cooperation didn’t seem likely.

Providenti’s projections included a range of small pay hikes from 2-to-5 percent for employees, depending on their roles. Supervisors were reminded more than 75 percent of government costs are for salaries and benefits.

The latter includes health care coverage, which Providenti said was curtailed in part as the premiums also were negotiated down to keep the insurance provider’s boost at 5 percent. He said the provider initially proposed much more.

Supervisor John McKenna, meanwhile, voiced concern about seeking union help if it meant giving up something in later years to get concessions currently. Bonkowski agreed, but added he was looking for some wiggle room via change that could come between no increase and the percentage boosts in the preliminary budget.

Supervisor Karen Abowd also urged Werner to see if other paring can be done, but didn’t get into the union matter.

The board spent all morning on budgets. Included in the presentation was a history of staff reductions from 453 full-time equivalent employees in 2008 to 416 this fiscal year.


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