New tax to be considered Monday | RecordCourier.com

New tax to be considered Monday

by Susie Vasquez

Initiation of a business license tax, utility operator fee and/or a 25-cent 911 communications fee will be considered in an effort to shore up Douglas County’s sagging revenue base, according to Assistant County Manager Michael Brown.

Sales and property taxes, together with revenues derived as a result of new construction have all dropped over the past year, but overhead and the demands for services have decreased, according to county reports.

A special meeting to consider the issues and options is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Monday in the Douglas County Administration Building, 1616 Eighth St. in Minden.

The general fund, which is experiencing a $906,000 deficit, makes up 29 percent of Douglas County’s $157 million budget. Room tax, social services, 911/technology services and senior services funds are experiencing deficits just over $1.5 million, according to county reports.

The use of general fund revenues is unrestricted, so it can be used to shore up county services experiencing deficits, but when the general fund catches a cold, the rest of the funds get the flu, Brown said.

“If the general fund doesn’t have the ability to fund those services, that’s a real concern for the board (of commissioners),” he said.

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The fiscal year 2007-08 preliminary budget for the room tax fund includes a reduction in service levels in a few areas, according to a report by County Manager Dan Holler.

Imposition of a 1 percent utility operating fee could generate an estimated $850,000 a year. A business license tax could generate another $600,000 to $800,000 and the 25-cent 911/communications fee another $75,000 to $100,000 annually, according to county reports.

In addition to these options, commissioners are considering audits to ensure efficient county operations.

“It’s not about downsizing as much as it is right-sizing,” said County Commissioner David Brady. “That sends a message to the community that we are exercising fiscal restraint and maintaining operational efficiencies across the board.”

Commissioner Kelly Kite added a cautionary note, saying it’s not wise to curb spending for volunteer services that can save the county money, but grant funding could be monitored more closely.

“We give (grant) money to some organizations, but we don’t hold them accountable for what they do with the money,” he said. “What type of return are we getting?”

Commission Chairman Doug Johnson said expenses need to be streamlined from the top down.

“They may be small dollar amounts at any given time, but so were the issues we dealt with today,” he said. “We need to start with ourselves.”

Budgets for the Douglas County Redevelopment Agency, the towns of Gardnerville, Genoa, Minden and the East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts, the Sierra Forest Fire Protection District, the Tahoe-Douglas Transportation District and the Western Nevada Regional Youth Facility will also be considered.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at svasquez@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.

What: Special meeting of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners to adopt the fiscal 2007-08 budget

When: 4:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Douglas County Administration Building, 1616 Eighth St. in Minden