Redevelopment plan clears hurdle | RecordCourier.com
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Redevelopment plan clears hurdle

by Sharon Carter

County commissioners Thursday approved the county’s draft Redevelopment Plan and its proposed Redevelopment Area 1, a 1,000-acre district distilled from an original evaluation area that encompassed nearly 5,200 acres.

Redevelopment Area 1 includes acreage along the western Highway 395 corridor in the north county near the Carson City border – the so-called commercial area. It also includes portions of the Ridgeview subdivision, Genoa and two other commercial tracts along the western edge of the Carson Valley at the edge of the Sierra: part of Walley’s Hot Springs and a portion of the Little Mondeaux proposed development at the Northern Nevada Golf Club near Jacks Valley.

All are areas that county redevelopment consultants say would benefit from having water and sewer hookups, roads and drainage improvements. The idea is to improve commercially-zoned areas which, with infrastructure, would develop and pay for their own development and help finance improvements in residential areas, and would eventually provide added income to the county as a whole.

While the county commission’s vote was unanimous, it is possible the planning commission’s close, simple majority vote of 3-2 to recommend the draft plan to officials was more representative of uncertainties residents have about the complex issue.

n School district concerns. In particular, the Douglas County School District has voiced concerns about losing future revenue to redevelopment.

School officials say they are worried about losing the district’s share of any increases in assessed property tax valuation, called tax increment, if the properties in the redevelopment area are developed and become more valuable.

The reason is that the redevelopment agency would capture such increases in property tax revenues, holding the district’s share at 1998 levels. Any tax money gained from the increased values of redeveloped properties must, by law, be used to pay off state and federal loans used to fund the redevelopment improvements. When the improvements are paid off, the additional tax money reverts to the county entities and that particular redevelopment agency sunsets.

The Douglas County School District Board of Trustees Tuesday voted to formally protest the redevelopment plan.

Currently, the school district has 40 percent of the county’s property tax pot. In 10 years, when the school bond is retired, the district’s portion drops to 30 percent.

And, although Redevelopment Area 1 properties make up only about 1 percent of the county’s total assessed land, Rick Kester, the school district’s financial officer, said that if development occurs as expected in the redevelopment area, the district could lose up to $10 million over the 30-year life span of the program.

n County response. Proponents of redevelopment question if 30 (or even 40) percent of the tax increment on 1 percent of the county’s property taxes would make that much difference to the district. Recent county calculations suggest the school district’s possible losses might be as low as $2.1 million.

“We really don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” the county’s planning and economic development manager, John Doughty, said Wednesday. “It’s likely to cost them (the school district) something somewhere in between. We do know there are needs in the community as important as the (school) district’s and that if they are addressed, it will ultimately benefit them and the county as a whole.”

Doughty said that commercial development at the Carson City border would probably have little impact on the school district, whichever side of the county line it occurs on.

“But if development happens on the Carson City side of the line, as is anticipated without redevelopment, the county and the district will have all of the impacts and none of the benefits,” he said.

n In Clark County. Those arguments were countered Friday by Mike Alastuey, deputy city manager for the city of Las Vegas and formerly the Clark County School District’s assistant superintendent for finance. Clark County has redevelopment areas in the cities of Las Vegas, Henderson and Mesquite.

“You can make arguments on both sides,” Alastuey said in a telephone interview Friday. “But basically, no. The school district here hasn’t benefited at all from redevelopment. If anything, it’s suffered along with other local government entities that preexisted redevelopment and had growth money stripped away.”

School officials also argue that state lawmakers never intended for the school district’s property tax revenue to be used to pay for infrastructure for development. And, they say, since redevelopment has the potential to drive up overall property taxes in the county, it could make it more difficult for the district to pass school bonds.

n Schools protected. Doughty, who said he would likely make the same arguments the district is making if he were working for it rather than the county, said the school’s bonding capacity, which is protected by state law, would improve if property values increased.

“The projects we’re looking to drive directly influence the kinds of income we’re looking to gain,” Doughty said. “My point is that the school district’s assumptions may be off – particularly, that the development scenario will occur at 100 percent of the most optimistic projections. This is simply a decision by the county to reroute a very small portion of the property tax to work on some issues that affect all of Douglas County.

“We’d like to see the state Legislature create a provision to allow the commissioners, as the redevelopment agency, to do (revenue) pass-throughs to other government entities if they need it.”

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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