Carson City’s nearly $60 million budget approved; no taxes will rise

Though it was overshadowed by capital spending issues, Carson City government’s no-tax-hike general fund budget of nearly $60 million won approval Monday.

The $59.6 million general fund spending blueprint for fiscal year (FY) 2013-14, adopted unanimously, played second fiddle during the Board of Supervisors’ morning deliberations. Supervisors discussed it briefly, then raised concerns over the capital budget outlook and fee increases expected for water and sewer service.

The overall spending guide envisions water and sewer-related infrastructure upgrades that could boost service fees by 3 and 10 percent, respectively, though final decisions on rates won’t come until June.

Supervisor Jim Shirk asked several questions about options, mentioning that Mayor Robert Crowell had earlier talked of boosting the city’s sales tax by one-eighth of one cent to cope with the city’s sewer/wastewater treatment plant problem.

“I raised that issue,” the mayor acknowledged, adding he later determined the revenue would prove “miniscule” compared with wastewater treatment plant upgrade needs.

“It didn’t really make much of a dent,” said the mayor.

Finance Director Nick Providenti told the board that staffers crafted the budget with user fee rate hikes projected over five years to alleviate “rate shock” on water and sewage service users. Those users’ fees go into enterprise funds rather than city government’s sales- and property tax-supported general fund.

He said the 10 percent sewer fee boost for wastewater treatment plant upgrades would cost residential users about $3 or so more each month. Supervisor Karen Abowd noted business users are affected more heavily and need a blueprint to plan their private-sector budgets going forward.

She also asked Providenti about where things stand on state Health and Human Services pass-downs affecting city government’s budget.

“I actually think they’re pretty good,” he replied, hedging with a comment that the Legislature isn’t done yet this year. But he sounded confident. “We feel good about these numbers.”

The general fund budget of $59.6 million is some $700,000 higher than the anticipated budget outlay for this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

It anticipates spending $27.8 million on public safety. The Sheriff’s Department would get more than $16.2 million; Carson City’s Fire Department was allotted more than $8.6 million; and juvenile probation/detention would get more than $2.9 million.

The general fund plan calls for continuation of $3.56 per $100 assessed value on property. It also calls for no change in the city’s portion of sales tax, which provides 2.25 percent to the general fund, plus city option amounts of a quarter center for streets, a quarter cent for Quality of Life (Question 18) matters, and an eighth of a penny to the V&T Railway project. Overall state and local sales tax charged in the city is 7.475 percent.

Question 18, approved by voters in the 1990s, undergirds bonding authority for projects such as the multi-use athletic center expected to begin construction soon.

Overall, Providenti said, city government’s all funds expenditure budget was set for fiscal year 2013-14 at $125.2 million.

The board, in another unanimous vote, set the tax rate of the city’s County Cooperative Extension at an unchanged rate of 1.28 cents per $100 assessed valuation.


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