School trustee eyes other sources of revenue after AB46
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As the Washoe County School District seeks new sources of money for capital projects, one trustee is broaching the idea of taking it from existing sources.
Trustee Dave Aiazzi says there's more money in Washoe County than people realize; it's just about spending it in the right time and in the right place.
"We have a limited amount of money, which is more important to you: flood control or education? I think that's a very fair question to ask the voters."
The link between the two may not be apparent, but Aiazzi sees it as one pot of money that could be better spent on fixing the county's aging schools. In November, Washoe County Commissioners rejected AB46 and the option of raising taxes for capital projects. Now, Aiazzi is suggesting the district look to other areas for those dollars, including the 1/8 percent sales tax for flood control and the Regional Transportation Commission.
Kitty Jung was the only supporter of AB46 on the Washoe County Board of Commissioners. She's open to any idea that will help the schools, but says this dilemma is why a tax increase would have been better.
"This was the overwhelming and looming issue that didn't get hashed out very well, I believe, publicly...in that then the school district might go to the voters and ask for something revenue neutral, but that would be taking from some other area of revenue, as you know we've run on a very tight budget."
Using the flood money could be a tough sell for the district. While it was not voter approved, it has been used for flood projects and is currently being put toward the replacement of the Virginia Bridge, for example.
Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler says she's in favor of using funds from existing sources.
"I think that concept is workable. It's just that we'd have to find the right one (source of revenue) or the right two, or directing new funds from new projects."
She cited the medical marijuana program, which will soon be up and running in the state, as one option.
All the county commissioners have reiterated the need to work with the district. Aiazzi says the school board would welcome it, although he notes that they refused to meet with the full school board during the AB46 talks.
"I do think the voters could vote on this and give us some guidance. It's their money, let them choose one pocket or another pocket."
This discussion is still in its very early stages, and the district could not put any initiative on the 2014 ballot. That would be up to the commissioners or the voters.