The Northern Nevada Development Authority held its annual State of the Counties conference Wednesday in Carson City.
Executives from Carson City, Douglas, Lyon, Mineral, and Storey counties shared updates on grant funding, tax revenue, infrastructure projects, and local lawmaking.
Faith Evans / Nevada AppealCarson City
Carson City City Manager Nancy Paulson highlighted Carson City’s upcoming capital improvements, including a new fire station and the East William Street project.
With $20.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding and a $9.3 RAISE grant, Carson City is chugging forward on infrastructure projects Nancy Paulson, city manager, reported.
East William Street and the Quill Water Treatment Plant are both slated for infrastructure upgrades, and east Carson City is eyeing a new fire station and emergency dispatch center.
“One of the challenges that we are experiencing with these capital projects is that, while we’ve receiving federal funding … the dollars aren’t going as far as they used to. We’re seeing 10-15 percent increases in the project costs, sometimes even higher than that,” Paulson said.
Still, Carson City Public Works is pushing to break ground on all three by Spring 2023.
Inflated costs certainly aren’t deterring the private sector, either. Paulson said that nearly every section of the city is seeing new residential developments. In 2021, Staybridge Suites, an extended stay hotel, cut its ribbon on the north side of town, and Carson Tahoe Health completed an expansion of their medical center. City building permits have remained on-track with years past, excluding a spike in 2019, Paulson said.
Consolidated tax revenue increased 19 percent in fiscal year 2021. Taxable sales on motor vehicles rose 23 percent compared to the prior fiscal year, and internet sales rose 48 percent. The city had an ending fund balance of $26.4 million.
“This is really almost unbelievable, given that we’re still dealing with Covid,” Paulson said. She said that the city is doing very well financially.
Following Paulson’s presentation, both Lyon and Storey County representatives thanked Carson City for the pandemic support it provided to the whole region.
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Douglas County Manager Patrick Cates highlighted Douglas’s industrial growth, despite an aging population.
Douglas County is aging. Over the last 11 years, it lost 19 percent of its student population, and just under 30 percent of residents are 65 and older, county manager Patrick Cates said. He attributed it to retirees coming in from California.
“That’s certainly important to our future growth as a community,” he said. “We need families, we need students, and the next generation growing up in Douglas County, and that’s something we struggle with quite a bit.”
Notwithstanding, Douglas is still growing. Cates pointed out lots of industrial and manufacturing interest near the Minden-Tahoe airport. The airport itself is also investing in capital improvements that will add a taxiway and could double the amount of available hangar space over the next several years.
Douglas is updating their Trails Plan and investing in the arts and culture. The Visitor’s Authority is slated to open the Tahoe South Events Center in early 2023.
Carson Valley Medical Center is expanding, and Barton Health is bringing more professional offices to serve residents near Stateline.
“Looking into the future, I would say things are looking bright,” Cates said.
Douglas was awarded $9.5 million in ARPA money. It’s already funded a broadband mapping project and a body scanner for the jail. Staff are recommending to put the remaining balance in the general fund reserve for future strategic priorities.
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Lyon County County Manager Jeff Page said that Lyon has seen nearly a 300 percent increase in trucking traffic since 1995.
Lyon County is unique in the Quad County Region because it has no centralized community, county manager Jeff Page said during his presentation. Residents are spread out between eight separate areas, together creating the third largest county in Nevada with 60,000 residents.
“I have to have four or five of everything. I have five libraries, four sheriff substations, four senior centers, a multitude of community centers. It’s difficult to manage when you’re as spread out as we are,” Page said.
Fiscally, he said, Lyon is doing “OK.” Throughout the pandemic, he’s seen a sharp increase in sales taxes, especially from online shopping.
Over half of the county’s $5.6 million in ARPA funding will go toward infrastructure projects throughout the region. Lyon is hoping to improve its flood mitigation and Wildland Urban Interface Code compliance, Page said.
In 2021, the county completed the William Pennington Senior Center in Fernley and a new animal shelter in Silver Springs.
Currently, commissioners are working on a Public Lands Bill, a tiny home ordinance, and an ordinance possibly restricting marijuana lounges. The latter will go before the county commissioners in their first meeting in February.
One longer, ongoing trend that Page identified is more trucking in Lyon. Since 1995, traffic from truckers has increased nearly 300 percent. He attributed it partially to the construction of USA Parkway.
Transportation is a pressing issue for Lyon and surrounding counties with that steady stream of trucks, Page said. Lyon is working with the Nevada Department of Transportation to better coordinate between local and regional roads, shaping the future of Highway 50.
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Mineral County commissioner Cassie Hall said Mineral County is interested in possibly permitting a marijuana growing facility.
Mineral county has just under 5,000 residents, according to the most recent U.S. Census. Commissioner Cassie Hall said that the population reflects four percent growth from the last census, and the county is projected to have 11 percent growth by 2025.
At the same time, Hall said that some of the challenges that the county will need to field in the next years are a retiring population and high turnover rates.
“It’s astonishingly apparent that we have underutilized grants in past years. … We are hiring a grants administrator this next month,” she said.
Looking forward, Mineral is rekindling a partnership with Western Nevada College for workforce development, and it’s looking to off-road vehicles to bring tourism to the area. The county is also anticipating expansion of the Luning Solar Energy Center
Hall joked with the audience, “We are making diligent strides toward creating mission statements and vision statements so that next year we can have fancier (PowerPoint) slides for you.”
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Storey County Manager Austin Osborne said that a monster truck show brought 20,000 people to Virginia City in 2021.
County manager Austin Osborne said that from 2008-19, Storey provided more than $400 million in property tax abatements. It’s part of the county’s strategy for drawing businesses and workers into the region.
Some of Storey’s fastest growing sectors include management, tech, mathematics, and engineering.
Not only that, he and his staff created a new fast-track permitting process for developers. Community development guarantees that it will issue grading permits within 7 days and building permits within 30 days if the project meets all the county building requirements.
Osborne also touched on the ongoing Tahoe Regional Industrial Center Development Agreement, which he cited as one of Storey County’s biggest keys to success. It’s a 50-year contract between Storey and developer Roger Norman. Norman helped fund infrastructure in the TRIC, and Storey is paying him back $48 million on top of tax abatements with no interest.
During 2021, the county also attracted visitors with fireworks shows during the 4th of July and Christmas. A monster truck show in Virginia City brought 20,000 travelers to the area.
“The point is, Nevada is on the radar. We get things done. We’re open, but … we’re still using common sense to keep people safe,” Osborne said.
Looking ahead to 2022 and beyond, Storey is investing more in flood mitigation, senior services, and emergency response facilities. The county is anticipating residential growth near Painted Rock.