January 20, 2014
On Oct. 18, 2013, The Record-Courier reported that the State Demographer's Office released estimates stating Douglas County population has been decreasing for some time and is expected to bottom out at 47,405 in 2015. It was forecast to then increase at less than ½ of 1 percent per year for the next 20 years.
With just a cursory count and well within the Minden-Gardnerville urban area over eight or so years there has been plans approved and construction commenced in large developments for some 979 private housing units. As of early 2013, there had only been about 113 of these planned housing units completed and sold. Many of these are vacant dirt lots with paved streets and utilities.
These sluggish population indicators create some huge questions.
In 2004 and again in 2006 there were issues on the ballot asking voter approval or opinions about increasing various taxes to construct an all inclusive multitude of community center type projects including a senior center, the nature of some to be determined later. Both issues were turned down.
There is now a huge project under construction generally called a community/senior center. It is purported to contain a gymnasium, multi-purpose rooms, fitness facilities, congregate dining rooms, and senior daycare. There was a reported $2.9 million dollars paid for construction in FY 2012-2013 from the Room Tax Fund. The final budgeted construction cost by FY 2015 is budgeted to be $19 million dollars. This equates to almost $400 per everyone in the County or over $1190 for a family of three.
Just south of Gardnerville, contiguous Muller and Mathias Parkways have been created going nowhere with landscaping, medians, curbing and numerous drive way or side street easements, a significant traffic circle, fire hydrants, other utilities added and all through nothing but open fields. With this installation of over a mile of pavement they have also managed to increase the route of Pine Nut Road by a quarter of a mile. From July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2010 the County reportedly spent $719,546 on this so called Muller Lane Parkway extension. Paid ground keeping crews have been seen maintaining the landscaping.
County capital improvement project plans call for further extending this 4 lane divided Muller Parkway northeast a total of almost 4 miles. The County has estimated the cost for their yet unfunded roadway projects to be a minimum of $5,435,000 up to an undetermined maximum. This proposed extension extends approximately a mile across undeveloped ranch land and takes it about 1¾ miles away from Highway 395. This is not an extension but connects square miles of ranch and farm land to 395 with a four mile paved divided four lane road.
What is the soundness of these huge expenditures? Especially in view of the slow to no population growth and especially the very recent, so called, budget crunch calling for possible cutbacks or curtailments in essential services such as police, fire, education, et al.