Carson City’s property tax rate will likely remain the same in the coming fiscal year.
The Board of Supervisors on Thursday voted to use the current tax rate — $3.57 per $100 of assessed value — to prepare the budget for fiscal year 2019-2020.
The rate was due to the Nevada Department of Taxation on Friday, although the board has the authority to set the rate up until June 1, the deadline for the final budget.
Sheri Russell, chief financial officer, said there were some concerns about an economic slowdown and a drop in the growth in the city’s consolidated tax revenues. The budget is being prepared with an estimated 2.5 percent growth in the tax, to $32.3 million, after years of assuming 4 percent growth.
The board discussed whether too conservative an assumption about revenue would reduce the money available for needed capital improvements.
“It’s easy to say we can add the money later,” if revenues come in higher than anticipated,” said Supervisor Lori Bagwell, “but capital requests take months to execute.”
Supervisor Brad Bonkowski said he thought the consolidated tax revenue could be flat.
“We’re possibly delaying capital spending by a year, but then you’re dealing with real money rather than estimated,” he said.
The city expects to spend $6 million on capital improvements in the coming fiscal year, largely due to costs associated with new software that runs the city’s operations.
In April, the board will take up the proposed budget. A tentative budget is due to the tax department on April 15 and the final budget on June 1, a month before the start of the fiscal year.
The supervisors also discussed a handful of bills being heard during the 2019 session of the Nevada Legislature.
The board approved a resolution in support of one bill, Senate Bill 48, a Nevada Association of Counties’ sponsored bill authorizing certain local governments to impose diesel taxes.
Currently, diesel, like regular gas, is taxed 52 cents per gallon, but all the revenues from diesel go to state and federal government while the city receives 15 cents per gallon of the regular fuel tax.
A diesel tax could raise $395,000 annually, said Nancy Paulson, city manager, which would be used on road projects.
The supervisors also voted to support SB 12, which would help rural counties collect 911 fees from telecommunications providers. The board also endorsed Assembly Bill 82, which would ensure even if the only candidates for an office are from the same political party at least two candidates move on to the general election so the election is decided by all voters and not by voters from one party during the primary. The board voted to monitor several other bills.
The board voted to accept the 2019 master plan report from the Planning Commission. The report set several goals, including funding for a master plan update, an update on code for accessory dwelling units, and the implementation of new permitting software.
And the supervisors heard a report on the motel task force, which is working to do comprehensive inspections of the city’s extended stay motels.
The task force, which includes inspectors from the fire, health, building, and code enforcement departments and the Sheriff’s Office, has so far conducted inspections of seven motels and has four open cases. Those motels are the Silver Queen Inn on Caroline Street, which has received three complaints since its initial inspections; the Silver State Inn on Rand Avenue, which is working with the city on permits for needed work; the Round House Inn on Carson Street, which has through June to make repairs; and the Whistle Stop Inn on Carson Street, which has been cited twice and the city is working with the property owner’s attorney.
That property owner, Betty Brinson, recently sold another motel, Back on Track on Carson Street, which is now The Nolan Inn, and the city is working with the new owner to make repairs.
The supervisors were concerned the program to inspect motels is taking too long and asked staff to come back with recommendations on how to expedite the process.
“It has to do with staff workload and giving people reasonable time to make corrections. It’s been a bit of a balancing act,” said Lee Plemel, director, Community Development.
In addition, he said, other motels are routinely seen by certain inspectors when they receive complaints.
Supervisor Stacey Giomi, who’s the board’s representative on the Culture and Tourism Authority board, said he would talk to the CTA about discussing the possibility of levying the extended stay motels the transient occupancy tax, which doesn’t currently apply to stays longer than 28 days.
The revenue raised might be used to incentivize owners to invest in their properties in a similar way as the Facade Improvement Program.