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Sparks Mayor Talks Recovery, Revenue Obstacles In Address

Julia Ritchey

Sparks' Mayor Geno Martini says despite steady economic gains, he’d like to see the state revisit its cap on property taxes to help cash-strapped local governments. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports.

Giving his annual state of the city address on Monday, Mayor Martini says Sparks is venturing forward with what he calls renewed enthusiasm and an eye toward prosperity.

"While we do have some battle scars, and some lingering effects of the Recession that will remain for a while, we are emerging from our darkest days and it feels good to be on the upside of economic events of recent times."

The mayor cited revenue gains from property and sales tax, along with business license and permit fees.

Yet hindering their economic recovery, he says, is the state-imposed 3 percent cap on a property’s assessed value.

Martini says during the Great Recession, home assessments in Sparks fell by as much as 40 percent.

"I mean to do away with it [the cap] would not be the right thing to do, but I think there are some tweaks we could make there that would bring some revenues that we've lost."

Property taxes this year are up about 6 percent but are only expected to increase by a modest 1.6 percent in 2017.

Nevada legislators approved the cap in 2005 to provide property tax relief. 

No to consolidation

The mayor of Sparks also expressed his disinterest in regional consolidation of the area's fire departments.

"The city will always maintain a high-performing fire department, as we have for more than a 100 years, and we'll do it with a model that works for us, and we'll do it at a good price for our citizens," he says.

The Sparks Fire Department operates independently from both Reno's Fire Department and the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District.

Reno and the county’s fire district separated their operations in 2012. But some officials, including Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, have advocated a re-merger. 

Martini says Sparks' Fire Department handled 12,000 emergency calls last year, a 10 percent increase from 2014.

Ignite Sparks

As the city continues to grow, Martini says they want to increase public outreach and hear from constituents as officials develop a new master plan. 

The city is asking all residents to give their input through a survey at IgniteSparksNV.com.

Julia Ritchey is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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