Scene In Passing: Data digging helps avoid doom of repeats

What at first seems a boring litany of data recapping city government’s recent past often contains nuggets hinting at the future.

Such was the case during departmental reviews at a recent special meeting of Carson City’s Board of Supervisors and Board of Health, the latter a seven-member body that includes the mayor, the supervisors, plus Health Officer Susan Pintar and Sheriff Ken Furlong. The reviews were a look at yesterday providing glimmers of tomorrow.

“Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it,” said Sir Winston Churchill, 20th century British prime minister. Consequently, on to the chase.

Community Development Director Lee Plemel provided the city’s governing board data showing Fiscal Year 2013-14 produced building permits for residential, commercial, public and other construction projects valued by the builders at more than $40 million. That compares with $23 million in FY 2012-13.

The $40 million was topped in FY 2010-11 and 2011-12, but not by a lot, as both Carson City and the nation struggled to put the recession in the rearview mirror. The recession’s FY 2009-10 figure here was much lower at about $20 million. Plemel didn’t get into the present or future because a lone month’s statistics are nearly meaningless, and only July is available for this fiscal year.

But a check at the Building Division showed July brought more than $3 million in building permits submitted by builders, none of it in the multi-family, commercial or publicly-owned categories yet. July of the previous year was slightly higher overall at $3.3 million, but that and seven other months of FY 2013-14 exceeded $3 million. So topping $40 million as recovery quickens isn’t an outlandish projection.

Other reports reflected on Carson City’s quality of life.

Sheriff Furlong, meanwhile, said 2013 was the city’s best and lowest rate for serious crime in two decades and told the governing board he could continue moving forward with what he has in terms of manpower and equipment, at least in a general sense. Call volume is up, but property crimes are down. Public Works Director Darren Schulz said arsenic and uranium groundwater levels are up due to drought, but it’s manageable and water quality is good.

The Board of Health, meanwhile, got an earful on various subjects but the one that caught the ear of Mayor Robert Crowell concerned moves toward making Carson City a designated bike-friendly place. Cortney Bloomer of the Health and Human Services Department, who oversees bicycle safety and access, played to that interest.

“We are a destination for biking,” she said. The mayor, meanwhile, cited reports that people look for bike-friendly communities when they think of relocating.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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