Scene In Passing: Will he step in and foul one off?

The soft underbelly of Carson City’s bucket list is threefold: higher taxes, two lanes, and buy-ins or opting out by businesses and residents.

City government’s bucket list, for those who don’t know, is a group of capital improvement projects.

Some people oppose increased taxes. So let’s use baseball terminology, calling a $1 million-per-year slice of new city sales-tax revenue to pay off projected bucket list bonds the first strike.

A vocal group wants downtown Carson Street to remain four lanes, two each way, rather than be narrowed to one lane going north and another south. Strike two.

Those who already buy in, those who don’t and anyone still pondering is now anticipating the next pitch.

But let’s extend this baseball analogy. Imagine the immortal Babe Ruth at the plate, soft underbelly over his belt late in his carousing career but still a threat. The pitcher also has tossed three outside the strike zone to this Carson City Babe, respecting the thunder still in the bleary slugger’s bat.

Ball one: the not-so-great recession, though a real headache, is history. So let’s say the Babe’s hangover headache is fading as he waves his bat.

Ball two: a brush-back pitch that sent the Babe sprawling in the dirt. Let’s say it was when the four-lane/two-lane debate dogged city government last year. The Babe knocked down some wrought-iron fences but otherwise kept the status quo, looking to swing the bat another time.

Ball three: this Carson City Babe, for whatever reason, didn’t like a close but wide pitch and didn’t go for the downtown library project in 2012. That means he saved taxation and bonding flexibility for another day.

Now a pause for reality. A town hall on the bucket list plan is set for Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Community Center at Roop and William streets.

At a similar town hall meeting last week, Lisa Helget opposed raising city sales tax one-eighth of a penny to finance the projects, particularly streetscape improvements in business corridors. She called it selfish of business and a money grab. Eric Ingbar, though more favorable to the bucket list projects, suggested business design standards to go with the streetscape upgrades.

Afterward, this columnist mused that a business-improvement district and clean-up commitment might show business buy-in. But a reader who shall remain nameless suggested instead that business should commit to help raise the bulk of $4 million for a new animal shelter, taking pressure off the city treasury on another of the bucket list projects. Business buy-in, he reader added, might help buy-in by residents.

Whichever outcome you’re rooting for, it should prove intriguing to learn how the Babe handles the 3-2 pitch when the Board of Supervisors takes action in February. Here’s the wind up; now comes the pitch ...

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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