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County looks at priority list for fiscal year 2000

by Sheila Gardner

You are a Douglas County commissioner, and County Manager Dan Holler has handed you a list of 40 projects to be considered for fiscal year 2000.

It’s your job to decide what’s important. How would you rank the Regional Juvenile Center compared to Carson Valley transit services? What about the Foothill sewer project as opposed to planning for the Highway 395 bypass? Where do you place room tax surplus vs. drainage systems?

You can compare your answers to commissioners’ priorities at a workshop Jan. 14 where the board will look over a priority list of 40 projects as they begin budget preparations for the next fiscal year.

Holler drew up the list which is in three categories – policy issues, infrastructure projects and building projects.

“It’s two-fold,” Holler said. “What’s necessary, and how do you prioritize? With the policy issues, commissioners will decide what role we want the county to play. It’s not just buy or don’t buy, it’s setting a direction.”

n Three factors. Holler based his priorities on three factors: comments by commissioners at board meetings, one-on-one input from the board and public response.

“The board tends to support what public response is,” Holler said. “They tend to take that seriously and put it on their ‘to do’ list.”

At the top of Holler’s policy issue list is the Regional Juvenile Center in Silver Springs. A ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled Friday for the facility in Lyon County.

The center will serve juvenile offenders from Carson City, Douglas, Lyon, Storey and Churchill counties.

“It’s a five-county deal, and we’ll be setting up the funding mechanism,” Holler said. “There is a real lack of youth facilities, and the regional justice center will help fill that gap. It will provide interim care and more treatment for juveniles.”

The Foothill sewer project leads the infrastructure list. It’s followed by Lake Tahoe transit and parking facilities and the North Valley redevelopment area.

Under building projects, Holler has placed Kahle Park phase two and the library expansion at the top.

Questions commissioners need to address concern funding and staff resources.

“We’re saying, ‘Here’s how full the plate is, how much do you want to bite off?'” Holler said. “We’re also assuming the economy holds. That means the budget is stable, and there will be no major surprises out of the Legislature.”

He said the board will be watching what happens in Carson City.

n Room tax. In 1997, the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 616 which redirected Douglas County’s room tax revenue more toward tourism. In response to that, voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax increase which the Legislature must implement.

“What would be ideal is for the Legislature to enact the sales tax increase in March so it would be in effect in July. The state taxation department needs one quarter to notify businesses that the tax is going into effect if it’s a go,” Holler said. “It should be a done deal for us since the taxpayers supported the increase, but we don’t want to make any assumptions.”

Holler said the many of the items on the priority list are ongoing.

Other projects include renewal of the TCI cable television franchise, garbage transfer station, drainage projects, renovation of the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, airport road, water and sewer extensions, building for road maintenance, fees, permits and staff services for general improvement districts and towns, and county staffing levels.

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