Lyon County Commissioners this week agreed to take a second look at a transportation tax enacted last July after some manufacturing business owners complained it was unfair.
"It's not like anybody's saying we don't want to pay a share," said Bill Miles of Miles Brothers Construction. "We just want to make sure the share is fair."
The transportation tax is levied on new construction and is 65 cents per square foot. The tax took effect July 1 and was authorized by Lyon County voters last fall.
The purpose of the tax is to pay for road maintenance in the face of the dramatic growth Lyon County has experienced.
County Manager Donna Kristaponis recommended the tax be decreased to 50 cents per square foot, which is equal to the tax charged by Douglas County.
"I was looking at it in terms of equity," she said. "Industrial may use as much land, but not generate as much traffic as commercial." She added that the heavier weight of industrial vehicles was taken into account as well.
Kristaponis said that the county staff had looked at what other counties charged and said Douglas County's tax was more in line with Lyon's needs. Carson City and Storey County do not assess a transportation tax.
"We chose what Douglas County has," she said. "We don't want to compete with Storey County. There's too many differences there."
Commissioner Leroy Goodman said he believed Lyon was in competition with Storey County to attract business and called the transportation tax "onerous."
"Even 50 cents is too onerous," he said.
Don Ogden of Builder's Choice, a company that is building a home truss manufacturing facility in Silver Springs, said the transportation tax was a huge burden to his business.
"It has a huge impact on us," he said. "We have a 6,000-square-foot office, a 150,000-square-foot manufacturing building and a 7,000-square-foot shop. That's about $120,000 for just the road tax."
Ogden also complained that his company was asked to put a road in front of the business. "Either exempt us from the tax or exempt us from building the road," he said. "We have to pay the tax two times, by building the road and paying the tax."
Commission Chairman Bob Milz of Dayton said when the tax was approved he believed it was primarily a tax on residential construction.
"I didn't intend to discourage industry and business," he said.
Commissioner Don Tibbals suggested that the tax be reduced to 10 cents per square foot, but Kristaponis said it might cost at least that much just to administer the tax. She also said the county would have to review the budget, which as based on residential, commercial and industrial development paying the tax.
The transportation tax issue will be discussed in an upcoming public hearing.
n Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.