NNDA State of the Counties: The counties provide information on the current state of the regional economy

Community development, capital improvements, and necessary dollars to fund social services from tax revenues continue to serve as common threads connecting neighboring counties of Carson City, Douglas, Lyon, Storey, and Mineral.

The Northern Nevada Development Authority welcomed four of its returning speakers – Carson City Manager Nancy Paulson, Douglas County Manager Patrick Cates, Mineral County Commission Chair Cassie Hall and Storey County Manager Austin Osborne. NNDA also welcomed new Lyon County manager Andrew Haskin.

Carson City’s conservative budget

Carson City manager Nancy Paulson said the city continues to plan for its future by focusing on critical infrastructure projects and deferred maintenance, building reserves and budgeting conservatively.

In 2022, the general fund balance was higher than expected at $20.4 million, or about $7.4 million more than city officials had anticipated, with revenue coming in at about $2 million due to likely vacancies , she said.

Paulson noted that the fund balance as a whole is down from fiscal 2021’s $26 million, but said “there’s no need to panic just yet” because the city’s reserves are intact for now. Last year’s sales tax hikes made themselves felt, she said.

She said Carson City’s priority for staying financially strong in 2023 is to maintain adequate levels of funding and improve the bond rating. She said the general public doesn’t like to hear city budgets conservative, but the higher the bond rating, the lower the interest rate it maintains.

Possibilities of Douglas County

Patrick Cates, Douglas County Manager, reported that the area has seen growth of 5.3% since 2010, with a faster aging population over 65 of 26.4%, exceeding the national average of 15.2%. Those who are retired or will soon be retiring make up about 38.7% of Douglas’ population, which compares to the nation’s 22.3%.

In fiscal 2021-22, Cates said, property taxes remained the county’s largest source of revenue at 38%, with 21% of the funding coming from interstate joint revenue, 20% from room taxes, and the remainder from capital or operating grants or sales taxes.

“One of my goals is to increase the amount of federal funding that we’re bringing into the county,” he said, referring to projects like the Carson Valley Medical Center, a 54,000-square-foot expansion currently underway to support the elderly population who may need such dollars to expand medical services and capital improvement opportunities.

Cates also referenced Barton Health’s regional expansion at Stateline, which converted the former Lakeside Inn and Casino into a new hospital. He also said the expansion of America’s AVK Co., for which the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development approved about $1 million in tax breaks in December, would create about 60 jobs at this 130,000-square-foot foundry . The project would be operational in late spring 2024.

Cates said the Tahoe Blue Center, a planned 5,500-seat arena, is scheduled to open in July and will provide meeting and convention space for visitors, as well as employment opportunities.

Cates shared that he is excited about the Muller Parkway project, a collector road between South Gardnerville and North Minden designed to help ease congestion on US 395, with groundbreaking scheduled for later this year, as well as dated Project Art in Public Places.

Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal

Lyon County Manager Andrew Haskin gives a tax overview of the Lyon County at the Northern Nevada Development Agency’s annual State of the Counties event on Wednesday.

Lyon County Capital Improvements

The NNDA welcomed Haskin, who announced that the district commission had approved his contract at their Jan. 19 meeting.

Haskin announced that Lyon’s total revenue for fiscal 2022 fell slightly to $42.5 million from $43.6 million in 2021. Expenditure on general government, public safety, justice, health and recreation is due to capital projects from $37.5 million to $40.2 million in the same year. The county’s 2022 final fund was approximately $10.7 million.

Haskin reviewed some of Lyon’s ongoing projects, including the Aspen Creek Rapid Infiltration Basins, which will build a 1.4 million gallon per day rapid infiltration basin, and upgrades to the current Rolling A pumping station. He described the 10-mile Hill Water Tank to be developed with a road across from US 50 and a second 300-foot bridge designated for the eastern end of Dayton Valley to connect to Chaves Road. The bridge will provide right-of-way through Bureau of Land Management ownership and other developments, and the county is currently seeking funding for design and construction, Haskin said.

He also discussed updating the county’s area drainage master plans to ensure its guidelines are consistent with current maps and flow data for developers. Lyon is working with two new master plans for drainage areas and with the Caron Water Subconservancy District for Stagecoach and North Silver Springs, he said.

“The improvements to the proposed plans are very costly, so it will take us a long time to create and work through mitigation efforts, but once we have planned it, we can at least create this indoor capital improvement plan and plan for the future,” he said.

Single-family housing permit building permits have been rising year on year from 2022, he said, and while they aren’t available for January, he said, they’re likely to show the same thing.

Lyon has seen new developments over the past year including the expansion of the Webstaurant distribution center in Dayton, an increase of approximately 620,000 square feet in addition to the previous 350,000 square feet. The proposed Traditions Master community, owned by DR Horton, has applied for or received 44 residential building permits with Phase 2 to make improvements to the site, totaling 65 lots. Haskin said the developer plans to begin work on Phase 3 soon, which will total 61 properties.

In addition, Haskin said work is taking place at the Northern Nevada Industrial Center on the USA Parkway, with 750,000 square feet of sorting underway.

Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal

Storey County Manager Austin Osborne provides a Storey County tax update at the Northern Nevada Development Authority’s annual State of the Counties event Wednesday.

Storey County TRIC Passes On

Storey County’s approximate budget of $25 million, which surprises many who believe the number is larger given the region’s continued economic development, according to District Superintendent Austin Osborne, focuses primarily on its continued success to date with the Tahoe Regional Industrial Center. The agreement is with developer Roger Norman, who laid the infrastructure and is in a 50-year contract with the county. In 2022, Storey paid $3.8 million of his expenses to Norman for the TRIC payback, and that payback will be a recurring theme for now.

Osborne said Storey continues to lead the state on tax breaks and has $1 billion more than Clark and about $1.2 billion more than Washoe.

But he addressed the challenges with Senate Bill 1, the tax break bill signed by former Gov. Brian Sandoval in 2014 that gave Tesla about $1.25 billion in tax breaks for its $3.5 billion investments over a period of 10 years. The legislation passed the Senate 21-0.

Osborne said through SB1 that Tesla will pay Storey to cover $6.5 million in general expenses and $2.7 million in roads between 2021 and 2024 for the same period, and he warned counties , to be prepared when considering similar arrangements.

In Storey’s move from “wastewater to prosperity,” Osborne addressed the importance of regional collaboration to transform its wastewater pipeline into a regional economic engine.

Thanks to the Gigafactory, manufacturing jobs in Storey are also up 55%, and average wages are generally higher than the state, with construction, information technology, and science technology all comfortably higher than Nevada.

Osborne said Storey’s 2023 capital improvement plan will cost approximately $9 million, a chunk of $600 million total over 10 years, to address critical projects, water transmission and distribution needs, Gold Hill’s sewer lines and two other fire stations include TRIC, construction or design of sheriff’s and courthouse facilities, replacement of 1964 swimming pool, road rehabilitation assistance, and provision of a seniors’ or community center.

Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal

Mineral County Commissioner Cassie Hall provides an update on Mineral County Wednesday at the Northern Nevada Development Authority’s annual State of the Counties event.

The Advances of Mineral County

Though the county has yet to hire a county manager and was unable to provide specific data for this year’s presentation, Mineral County Commissioner Cassie Hall said the region has made progress toward consolidation and has met its goals by merging its room tax and tourism divisions into one recovery have and community development department because of human resource shortages, she said.

However, the Director has been able to advance recreational needs such as saving the local golf course, negotiating water rights and reviving local favorite activities such as pickleball and disc golf, and continuing important community development concepts that are integral to Mineral’s experiences and starting conversations among residents.

Hall said another achievement was hiring a grant administrator to help identify and secure grant opportunities for the American Recovery Plan Act, the Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund and the Community Development Block Grant

According to Hall, the Planning Commission is working with the Northern Nevada Development Authority and Converse Consultants on a master plan and rezoning and hopes to follow TRIC’s model in its development. Although she said it probably won’t reach the size of TRIC, “I think we have a nice model to follow,” Hall said.

Over the past year, COVID-19 brought the county’s attention to testing and immunization challenges, and Mineral is trying to improve its public health preparedness. Hall said the county partnered with Churchill County and created the Central Nevada Health District to help with disease investigation, public health nursing, environmental health and disease prevention.

Hall said there are other mental health and social services projects she plans to announce in the future.

She also cited news about the expansion of the Luning Solar Power Plant, the potential for ARPA wage increases and progress made by the county construction department in improving property and addressing the local housing crisis.