Nissan dealer incentives OK’d by Carson City supervisors

The Board of Supervisors on Thursday approved an incentive package for a new Nissan car dealer in Carson City.

Chris Russell, owner of three Nissan dealerships in Idaho and another in Washington, plans to open a Carson City outlet on South Carson Street on the four-acre lot where the vacant Craft Market store is located.

The incentive package will provide a 30 percent rebate of the dealership’s sales tax as soon as it employs 30 or more full-time employees.

The proposed package was for the rebate to max out at $3.5 million, but the supervisors reduced it to $3 million.

Supervisor Karen Abowd proposed the rebate reduction and Supervisor Brad Bonkowski suggested the rebate should be tied to the value of the purchased property.

Paul Stevens, chief financial officer, Chris Russell Auto Group, said the business is purchasing the land for about $2.8 million and will in the end spend about $8 million to buy, build, furnish and equip the dealership.

The supervisors also added a condition the rebate is suspended if during any quarter employment falls below 30 full-time employees and is reestablished once the number of workers hits 30 again.

“We anticipate closer to 35 to 40 workers so we are comfortable with 30,” said Chris Russell. “We believe it will be more than that.”

Russell also committed to hiring locally as much as possible.

The city will build a commercial driveway for the business, something it would have done anyway during the redesign of South Carson Street, said Nick Marano, city manager.

“In general I have not supported incentive agreements, but the difference here is we’re not giving you anything up front,” said Supervisor Lori Bagwell.

The agreement will last 15 years or until the maximum rebate is met, whichever comes first.

The dealer agrees to stay in Carson City for 20 years, although as Bonkowski pointed out, the city has no way to enforce that once the rebate ends.

Supervisor John Barrette asked Russell why he wasn’t establishing a Kia car dealership, too, as the auto group has done at locations in Idaho, and Russell said he was in negotiations with the auto maker to sell Kia cars at the new dealership here as well.

The Carson City Chamber of Commerce was pleased with the deal.

“The 2004 dream of a true auto row in Carson City may soon become a reality with the pending Nissan dealership. We are delighted the Board of Supervisors has authorized a revenue sharing agreement with the proposed dealership that will provide more car choices for locals and those from surrounding areas while adding to the sales tax base for our city,” said Ronni Hannaman, executive director. “We think this was the right thing to do.”

The supervisors also decided to not allow the sale of 14 2-acre parcels in the Pinion Hills neighborhood.

The parcels belong to the Bureau of Land Management, which under federal law must identify land near existing development to sell. But the city must recommend the sale before BLM can dispose of the property.

The city notified 103 nearby residents about the proposed sale and 63 showed up at an open house held in August where many talked about water.

Several spoke at the supervisors meeting, too.

“It’s not so much the quality. We knew we needed reverse osmosis, that the water was hot. That’s not the issue,” said Jacquelyn Sandage, a 23-year resident in Pinion Hills. “The issue as we drill more wells is the quantity.”

Mark Sivazlian, manager II, Division of Water Resources, and Dave Berger, director, Nevada Water Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, both said it was hard to know if additional wells would strain the water supply.

Sivazlian said a cursory look at well logs in the area suggest drought or poor water quality could cause deeper wells.

“But without extensive study it would be difficult to determine,” said Sivazlian.

Berger said there wasn’t enough data to know the status of the aquifer.

“The yield of aquifer is unknown. There are ways to model it. But there have never been any studies so we don’t know the yield,” he said.

Stephanie Hicks, real property manager, said if the parcels were sold and developed it would likely address some drainage and fire hazard issues there because the BLM does minimum management.

The supervisors agreed there were pros and cons to the sale, but after looking at both sides of the ledger, as Bagwell put it, the negative outweighed the positive.

The decision doesn’t preclude the possibility single parcels might go to auction at a later date if there was interest in purchasing them.

The board recommended Community Development Block Grants totaling $53,015 to Accessible Space Yasmer Estates to install a new elevator and $79,319 to Carson City Public Works for sidewalk improvements.

The supervisors also approved the Lompa Ranch developer agreement and an amendment to the Schulz Ranch agreement as well as a final map for 111 houses at Schulz Ranch.


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