Redevelopment Authority running short of funds

After three years of being a technically illegal operation, the Carson City Redevelopment Authority Citizen Committee was reestablished Thursday, although it's running out of money to spend on redevelopment projects.

The committee was formed in 1993 to oversee distribution of the city's incentive program, which was launched on a three-year trial basis.

No action was taken by city supervisors and the redevelopment authority until now to end the trial term.

Incentive money can subsidize 20 percent up to $100,000 of estimated district project costs. Redevelopment Authority Chairwoman Robin Williamson said redevelopment money sometimes pops up within city funds, but the days of giving up to $100,000 are essentially over.

"It will be mostly nickel-and-dime stuff from now on," she said.

Downtown projects such as the Golden Spike and St. Charles Hotel benefited from the incentive program.

The Redevelopment Authority sold a bond in 1993 for roughly $2.6 million to be paid by 2013. The authority's budget of $200,000 this year was the last of that bond money. At least $175,000 of that money is committed to projects.

The district funds several of its programs and its bond payments through a tax increment fund. For example, if a property was valued at $500 in 1993 and and the property owner paid $5 in taxes, the city collected the tax for its general fund. If the next year the value jumped to $600 and the property owner paid $6 in taxes, the city kept the $5, and the redevelopment district received $1.

As property values go up, the district earns more money. District officials expect to earn around $280,000 in 2000. With a bond payment between $200,000 and $220,000 which goes up each year, the authority is left with $60,000 or less to fund its ongoing projects. The Ghost Walk and Farmer's Market receive money as ongoing projects.

Redevelopment Director Rob Joiner is optimistic continuing funding can be found for the incentive program's bigger projects. Joiner has a few ideas that could expand the life of the redevelopment district, but none are set in stone and none have cleared the city finance department.

Reestablishing the citizen committee opens it up for a complete overhaul, Williamson said.

The committee is composed of seven members, several which were on the committee at its inception. Williamson said the opportunity to serve on the committee should be open to community members.

"This is an interesting committee because you have government money supporting private business and residents help offer a reality check," Williamson said. "They're allowed to voice their priorities (on how the money is spent.)"

The committee is made up of one architect, planner or engineer with training in historic preservation; two business or property owners from the redevelopment district; a person who has no financial interest in the district; the Redevelopment Authority chairman; a Mainstreet Board member and a Chamber of Commerce member. The city personnel department soon will begin to accept applications.


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