Roadwork, septic fees and strategic plan topics of this month’s Q&A
Douglas County Manager Steve Mokrohisky participates in a monthly question and answer forum online on The Record-Courier’s daily Running Commentary. Anyone with questions is welcome to participate in the next scheduled forum on Sept. 11 at 10:30 a.m. For a full transcript of the last forum, go online at recordcourier.com and search “County Manager Q&A: Aug. 14.” Here are excerpts of the last forum:
What is the status of the Waterloo Lane improvements between 88 and Centerville? It was closed for a day a couple of weeks ago. Is the intent to keep the same width and alignment?
The board approved a contract to pursue engineering and design for the reconstruction of Waterloo Lane. The consultant has been doing geotechnical work to verify the condition of the current road materials. The future reconstruction of the road does not contemplate significant changes in the width or alignment of the road, as there are private property right of way constraints that exist currently.
In the recent property tax bill there is a new entry called road maintenance with a tax rate of .0425 percent. Where did that come from and does it mean our taxes are higher?
As part of the current fiscal year 2013-14 budget, the Board of Commissioners approved reducing the medical indigent property tax rate and shifted the equivalent amount to road maintenance. As a result, less of your property tax dollar is going to medical indigent services and more is going to road maintenance. This shift is a reflection of our priority based budgeting efforts and consistent with the board’s desire to invest in the highest priorities. This action did not result in a net property tax increase to taxpayers.
Roadwork on Fuller seems to have stopped and there’s a lot of dust there. What is that work for and do you know when it will be done?
The road crew is in the process of repairing Fuller, which is located in the Johnson Lane area. The work includes smoothing out several bumps in the road, improving drainage, adding new culverts and applying fresh grindings. One challenge that we have faced on this project is that several of the utilities were located in the drainage easement, not the utility easement. So, we have been working with Charter, Frontier and Southwest Gas to relocate the utilities and then complete the roadwork. We anticipate that the utility work will be done within one week and the roadwork will be complete within one week after that. So, hopefully all will be done within a total of two weeks.
Septic fees in Douglas cost twice what they do in Carson City where septic pumping is $200. The difference is being attributed to difference between treatment plants in the two counties. Is there a chance that the fee would be change in Douglas in the near future?
Douglas County’s sewer treatment facility does not have the capacity to accept waste from septic tanks and I am not aware that MGSD or Indian Hills accepts septic waste. Therefore, the additional cost for septic pumping may be due to the additional transport costs to other facilities outside the area.
T hey are doing work on sidewalks on Vista Grande from Mica to Ruby Court. Are there any plans for the other side of Mica on Vista Grande where the roads are bad, and there is no sidewalk?
There is discussion of considering the use of redevelopment funds to reconstruct Vista Grande with curb, gutter and sidewalks. The County is working with Indian Hills GID officials to identify the costs, timing and funding of the proposed work. If funding is identified, the work could be done over the next few years. We have also had discussions of possibly turning the road over to IHGID for ongoing maintenance after the road is brought up to a reasonable standard.
We’ve heard that federal funding for rehabilitating burn areas in the Pinenuts have been affected by the sequester. Do you know anything about this?
Funding for the Bureau of Land Management has been reduced for rehabilitation efforts. So, we are working with our congressional delegation to ensure that the rehabilitation of the Pinenuts from the Bison Fire and other fires is a priority with the limited funds that BLM has available.
There are several projects ongoing in the Valley including the C.O.D. Garage casino and the senior living apartments in Gardnerville. Do you get the feeling that perhaps we are seeing signs of an improvement in the county’s economy?
We have seen an increase in building permits, particularly residential construction and remodeling/additions to existing homes. Also, new and existing businesses continue to make investments in their operations locally. Housing prices and sales are positive. Unemployment is steady and trending down. Taxable sales, occupancy rates and room tax collections are all showing positive trends. This is a slow recovery, but a recovery none the less.
The proposal to consolidate the three Lake Tahoe water systems is before Douglas County commissioners on Thursday for further action. How’s that effort going?
The board will discuss three items in particular related to Lake Tahoe water systems at its August Lake meeting. First, there is a proposal from Tahoe Douglas District to provide operations and maintenance services. Second, we will discuss potential capital financing mechanisms to fund future capital investments to repair the systems. Third, the board will consider consolidating the three Lake Tahoe water systems into one, similar to what we have already done in Carson Valley. The big issue with the Lake systems is how to pay for the approximately $14 million in future capital needs. So, we still have work to do with the residents to stabilize the Lake water rates and fund the needed capital projects.
How did the strategic planning meeting go last week?
The strategic planning session was productive. We discussed lessons learned and next steps with our priority based budgeting efforts. The board had a lengthy discussion on revising and adding some new strategic goals, including working with Minden and Gardnerville to implement the downtown improvements in the Valley Vision, working with existing businesses to ensure responsive services, working to stabilize water rates, developing a facility needs plan and technology road map, and updating our transportation plan. The board holds quarterly strategic planning sessions, so we will be back at it in a few months.
Any public officials interested in participating in a similar online forum can contact The Record-Courier at firstname.lastname@example.org or 782-5121, ext. 215.