Northern NV county officials: Housing woes 'really doing our community damage'

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Managers from six counties provided a snapshot of the region's economy Jan. 22 at the annual State of the Counties event hosted by Northern Nevada Development Authority.

Overall, the outlook is positive due to continued growth in sales and property taxes, business development, and low unemployment.

But a common challenge is affordable housing.

“We're seeing one-room apartments go from $600 to $1,400,” said Jim Barbee, Churchill County manager. “It is really doing our community damage.”

Churchill has set aside 30 acres outside Fallon city limits and is now looking for a developer to build housing there, said Barbee.

“We have issues with affordable housing or not the right type of housing," said Lyon County Manager Jeff Page. "You can find places to buy but not to rent so we're working with Yerington to find someone to build for rental market there."

Other market-rate residential development projects on the horizon include up to 2,500 houses in Douglas County as part of its development agreement with Park Ranch Holdings and up to 5,000 houses in Storey County's Painted Rock.

Carson City Manager Nancy Paulson talked about affordable housing on city land on Butti Way, a project recently approved by the Board of Supervisors that will start construction in 2021.

Also, construction is expected to begin next month on the South Carson Street project, which will narrow lanes and add a multi-use path.

After South Carson Street, Paulson said the city will set its sights on revamping William Street, a $12 million project expected to begin construction in 2023.

Paulson said she conservatively estimates Carson City's sales tax, which is driven by auto sales, to increase 5 percent to $33.2 million in fiscal year 2020.

“Thank you for buying your vehicles in Carson City,” she told attendees at the NNDA breakfast held in Casino Fandango's ballroom.

Despite the rosy outlook, the city is preparing for the inevitable economic downturn, said Paulson. The city plans to end 2020 with 8.8 percent in reserve, or about one month of operating revenue, with a goal to eventually get to 16 percent.

Other big projects in the area include the Tahoe Events Center in Stateline, a $100 million project that should help revitalize the lakefront, said Patrick Cates, county manager, Douglas County.

“It's a project with a lot of promise but not without controversy,” said Cates.

A redevelopment area was adopted in 2016 to help fund the project and a petition to dissolve it is on the ballot in November, he said.

Sean Rowe, district attorney, Mineral County also spoke as the newest member of the six-county coalition that makes up the Sierra Region that is served by NNDA.

Rowe said Mineral County is focusing on attracting light manufacturing, mining and support services, and tourism, to boost its economy.

“Mineral County is serious about joining with our regional partners and we look forward to working with you,” said Rowe.


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