Connection fees boosted by board

Carson City utility connection fees were raised during Thursday action at a city governing board meeting cut short to honor slain Sheriff’s Deputy Carl Howell.

The Board of Supervisors handled the fees hike and a few other routine but necessary agenda items in 33 minutes before the mayor and four supervisors left. They did so to join a procession starting at the Sheriff’s office, heading up Carson Street and on to the Reno Events Center where there were services for the deputy killed in a weekend gunfire exchange here. Jonathon Pope, 30, the suspect who reportedly fired first and hit Howell several times, also died.

“Would you please join me in a moment of silence for Deputy Sheriff Carl Howell,” a somber Mayor Robert Crowell said early in the meeting. The extended moment that followed and a local citizen’s e-mail calling Howell a fine deputy and Marine, read into the record by City Manager and retired Marine Colonel Nick Marano, were tributes preceding the board’s agenda action items.

“This man was a great American who was willing to stand up for the people of our town, as well as the people of the world,” wrote Steven L. David in his e-mail. See the full text in today’s editorial/opinion page.

Many board agenda items were tabled until the next regular meeting. But by a 4-1 tally, with Supervisor Jim Shirk dissenting, utility connection fees were raised beginning mid-July of 2016 in a phased approach over the following five years. These fee hikes were long in the crafting stage. The fees had been lowered markedly years ago in an attempt to keep development alive during the recession.

Shirk tried first to delay consideration until the next meeting and then sought a three year phase-in period, rather than five, but each of his motions died without a second. He said staff had recommended the shorter phase-in and the board should follow recommendations of staff and a city consultant. The fees, which primarily hit developers, increase nearly tenfold through the years with the final year starting in mid-2020.

After that they will rise automatically at the rate of increase of a construction services index, but no more than 3 percent.

Before taking action, the board heard a quick report from Ande Engleman, chair of the Utility Financial Oversight Committee, and a brief presentation by a representative of FCS Consulting. The rates for small water lines and sewers connecting to single family homes rise for water from $454 now to $3440 July 1, 2020; single family sewer rate connection fees go from $577 to $4493 over the same period.

Larger lines and sewers connecting with bigger commercial buildings require more. Developers and construction industry advocates, along with others, were involved in the rate-raising discussions and voiced concern a return to pre-recession levels not inhibit the city’s private-sector growth. Among the justifications for the hikes, meanwhile, were return to pre-recession levels and Carson City won’t exceed a range charged in neighboring jurisdictions.


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