Despite vocal public backing and majority Board of Supervisors support Thursday for an eighth-cent city sales-tax hike to finance multiple projects, the plan appeared dead for lack of a supermajority.
Mayor Robert Crowell was joined by supervisors Brad Bonkowski and Karen Abowd in supporting a motion to have city staffers proceed in crafting plans to fund several capital projects in part or fully, but Supervisors John McKenna and Jim Shirk cast negative votes. Both said provisions for public input and, in McKenna’s case, a vote of the people would be necessary to secure backing from them.
“I don’t know that you should put a whole lot of effort into it,” the mayor told City Manager Larry Werner after the tally. He meant putting effort into crafting a financing proposal. When the meeting ended, Werner said that was his interpretation as well because four votes would be needed next time. Basically, he told the board there were no options for financing except the remaining authority to impose an additional eighth-cent in city sales tax.
The projects involved include partial funding for a “Big Mac,” the name for a larger multipurpose athletic facility planned on Russell Way next to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada, $4 million for a new city animal shelter, plus improvements downtown and along three business corridors in north, south and east Carson City.
The entire package price was pegged at about $18 million and would require bonds backed by the increase in sales-tax revenue, projected at about $1 million a year.
A parade of witnesses came to back the plan, among them two representatives of the Downtown 20/20 business group, plus supporters of a “Big Mac” rather than a “Mini-Mac” and a spokesperson for the Carson Animal Services Initiative.
Lori Bagwell, a declared candidate for the board next year from Ward 3, applauded the supportive groups but said the board should consider community priorities and let the public rank its choices among the projects by putting them on next June’s primary election ballot.