Extending Carson City’s weekday evening bus service and privatizing local building codes oversight were approved Thursday by the Board of Supervisors.
The board voted unanimously to authorize additional funds for general Jump Around Carson bus service until 7:30 p.m., an hour extension, and after that provide later service involving the Western Nevada College campus and para-transit JAC service for disabled persons when requested a day in advance. The last bus on the WNC route will leave the campus at 10 p.m.; for para-transit, that also would be the final time.
The program starts Sept. 2 and this fiscal year’s funding is available to cover it, but the board also bought into an increase in city JAC general funds of $60,000 per year beginning in Fiscal 2015-16. Currently city government provides $350,000 annually for JAC. The extended hours program will be monitored for use and could be stopped by the board if ridership is too low.
Supervisor Brad Bonkowski said the plan provides the “most ridership for the least amount of money.”
Rielly Rose and Ricky Merlin of WNC student government, both sophomores at what one of them called “Harvard on the Hill,” supported the proposal. So did Sarah Mannee, representing those in the disabled community.
“I did come on the bus this morning,” Mannee told board members. “I think it’s a great service.”
Transportation Manager Patrick Pittenger assured board members the extended hours service will be monitored and reports provided on how it’s doing.
“It’s all very easy to track,” Pittenger said. The plan was staffed by Pittenger and came from the Regional Transportation Commission, on which Bonkowski and Supervisor John McKenna both serve.
Also approved by the board’s unanimous vote was a plan crafted by City Manager Nick Marano and others to contract with Charles Abbott Associates, Inc., of Mission Viejo, Calif., through Sept. 2, 2016, to handle building codes and permits work in the Community Development Department for a percentage of building permit fees. The firm’s Ray Proffitt, who will be the building officer, pledged a transparent operation. So did his regional director.
Buster Scholl, the regional director, said the goal is not only a transparent operation but a “can do” building division on behalf of the community.
“We really encourage pre-design meetings,” said Scholl. “We don’t like beating people over the heads with the code.” His cooperative comments came after two from the local engineering-architectural field raised red flags.
Keith Shaffer, Carson City School District project manager and an engineer, and Darrin Berger, an architect, testified. Shaffer said he wasn’t opposed, but added access was all-important and he had only heard about the imminent change by the grapevine. Shaffer also voiced concern if the change brings a California building codes approach into Nevada’s capital city.
Berger, saying his testimony was unrehearsed, talked of a preference for local people holding jobs and spending local money in the city, questioning a move to privatization with an outside firm.
“I’m not sure I’m a fan of this,” Berger said.
Aaron West, CEO of the Builders Alliance/Builders Association of Western Nevada, supported the privatization move and said it would help upgrade service via technology upgrades.
Community Development Director Lee Plemel, who oversees the building division, said the public/private partnership makes sense.
“It’s a proven way to provide building services to a community,” Plemel said. His testimony was echoed as people said the Abbott firm has a proven track record in both Nevada and California.
The city manager had signalled change was coming weeks ago when Chief Building Official Kevin Gattis left city government. Marano brought in Phil Herrington, Carson City’s building officer until 2005, to serve in the interim. On Thursday, Marano praised Herrington, who leaves the interim post at the end of this month. Proffitt takes over Sept. 2.
In other action, the board provided a one-year extension for Clearview Ridge, a planned unit residential subdivision, for filing a final map on the 73-unit development; established a special revenue fund by resolution to handle proceeds of the one-eighth of a penny city sales tax hike for specific capital improvement projects; retained Sherman & Howard as bond counsel; and began the process to sell 27 properties next February to cover back taxes.