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City to consider requests to Legislature
by Tribune Staff
May 14, 2012 | 978 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SPARKS — City Council members will discuss possible bill requests for the 2013 session of the Nevada Legislature, including how to determine property devaluation upon sale and how to change the city charter.

According to the staff report for today’s meeting, the City Council in January discussed possible bill draft requests on several topics and subsequent public discussions on the budget have also led to review of other possibilities. The city can submit one BDR, due by Sept. 1.

In an effort to stabilize property taxes, the council discussed the possibility of proposing a BDR that would reverse tax depreciation at the point of sale.

Currently, buildings are depreciated at 1.5 percent per year up to 50 years, for a total of 75 percent. When a building is sold, the depreciated value stays intact. Resetting the depreciation schedule would lead to higher values on which the state could collect property taxes.

However, according to city staff, re-setting the depreciation rate if a home is sold would require an amendment to the Nevada Constitution.

This topic was introduced by the Nevada League of Cities as Assembly Joint Resolution Number 1 (AJR 1) during the 2011 session, the staff report said. AJR 1 would allow the Legislature to enact a statue that provides for a calculation of taxable value upon a sale of a property. AJR 1 passed both the Assembly and Senate and will return to the 2013 Session.

AJR 1 is a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment which must pass by a majority of members from both chambers in two legislative sessions. The measure is then brought to a vote of the people, and if approved by a majority of voters, becomes a constitutional amendment.

At a city workshop in January, questions were raised about another issue: why the Sparks City Charter is governed by a Charter Committee, how the city could provide more flexibility to change the make-up of the Charter Committee or whether the Charter Committee could be removed all together.

Sparks’ City Charter, approved by the Legislature in 1975, requires committees that are independent of the city’s governing body. To change the make-up or authority of the Sparks Charter Committee would require a change to the City Charter and approval by the state Legislature.

To surrender a charter, a petition has to be signed by 15 percent of the voters of the city and then a question about whether to dissolve the charter has to appear on the ballot. The dissolution of the charter then has to be approved by a majority of the voters.

“It should be noted that state legislators have used the Sparks City Charter Committee as a glowing example of how Charter Committees should be structured and operated,” the city staff report says.

Another possible bill draft item is removal of health care as mandatory collective bargaining item

Nevada law lists insurance benefits as a mandatory item to be negotiated with recognized employee organizations. Recent budget discussions have focused on controlling the city’s insurance benefit costs, which amount to 10 percent of the general fund budget. Reducing this expense would contribute to putting the city on a path to fiscal sustainability, the staff report says.

Also on today’s agenda is a revision of the city’s five-year capital improvement projects plan for 2012-13 through 2016-17. The plan contains projects as small as $7,500 for bird netting for the police evidence building to $980,000 for a City Hall electrical upgrade. The council previously approved the plan at its April 23 meeting. Revisions being considered today reflect use of unspent 2007 bond funds.

Today’s meeting begins at 2 p.m. in the Legislative Chambers at 745 Fourth St. Read the full agenda online at www.cityofsparks.us and click on “Agendas.”
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