Rural businesses get cut of the pie in last legislative session, lobbyist says

The legislative session is over, but its effects are ongoing and often positive, said Carson City lobbyist Mary Walker, who claimed several tax victories for businesses in the rural counties.

Working together as a region made the successes possible, said Walker at Northern Nevada Development Authority's Wednesday breakfast meeting.

"We have seven legislators representing us and five are chairmen of committees," she said to an audience of about 70 local business leaders. "That's better than Clark (County)."

Carson City teamed with Douglas and Lyon counties and Carson-Tahoe Hospital in lobbying efforts to pass legislation, such as the bill allowing Carson City to enact an one-eighth cent sales tax increase to pay for the construction of the $30 million Virginia & Truckee Railway. City supervisors are conducting public hearings on this issue.

Walker considered this a victory because the reconstructed tourist track from Virginia City to Carson City will spur private investment and tourist dollars. The rail, which recently finished construction to American Flat, is scheduled to be completed in 2009.

She said business will also gain from a new tax incentive law that originated from Clark County.

"(It) allows property and sales tax abatement for businesses who expand or come into economically disadvantaged areas," she said.

Although Carson City doesn't have as many economically disadvantaged areas as Clark or Washoe counties, underused business zones and redevelopment areas qualify.

Carson City has two redevelopment areas, one covering downtown and the other encompassing auto row in South Carson.

Another new law allows a local government to establish a tourism improvement district. Seventy-five percent of the sales tax proceeds collected in one of the districts can be used to pay for its infrastructure improvements, such as sewer or parking. Another bill has a similar design, but for property taxes collected.

Walker said a newly revised law allows businesses in rural counties to enjoy partial property tax abatements, which had often only benefited businesses in Clark or Washoe.

The law allows new or expanded businesses that pay less than the county or state average hourly wage to receive partial property tax abatement. Walker said this benefits business in rural counties because they typically have a lower average wage than the state.

State Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, who also spoke at the meeting, said disaster relief will be a big issue in the next session because nobody wants to see the situation repeated, especially with Gov. Kenny Guinn and Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira standing in front of the city ruins and swearing at George Bush and wondering where the blankets are. He said this in reference to media reports of Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin complaining about federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

Amodei said the state should be prepared to be self-sufficient in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster.

- Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.


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