A bill calling for a change to Carson City's charter, which would limit the city's ability to spend funds collected under Question 18 Quality of Life, was heard Tuesday morning in the Assembly Taxation Committee.
The committee heard from proponents of the bill, Assembly Bill 263, which was introduced in the Legislature on March 11 by Assemblyman Pete Liver-more, a former member of the Carson City Board of Supervisors.
AB263 states that the proceeds from the 1⁄4-cent tax, approved in an advisory question by voters in 1996, must not be used to pay any administrative costs, regardless of whether those costs are associated with the projects outlined in the question.
"This is about intent and about the trust and integrity of a ballot question," Livermore told the committee.
He said the city "siphoned" $171,000 out of the Quality of Life fund the first year, $131,000 the second year, and that $136,000 was proposed to be taken this year for work done on behalf of Quality of Life projects by the treasurer, the city manager, the district attorney, the board of supervisors and more.
"As budgets got tighter, they started looking for money," he said.
City officials claim that the cost allocation process they've been using for the past few years is legal and appropriate, but no one from the city attended the Tuesday committee meeting to oppose the bill.
"We made a decision at our last board meeting that the Legislature wasn't the time or place to air this," Mayor Bob Crowell said Tuesday afternoon.
By a unanimous decision of the board, the mayor sent a letter to Livermore dated March 21 respectfully requesting that the legislation neither be introduced nor processed for the reasons laid out during the board's March 17 meeting, which Livermore attended.
The letter also said that the cost allocation issue the legislation is intended to stop would be taken up by the board within the next two months.
The letter reads in part: "This legislation, if adopted, will have a significant negative impact on the city's general fund and on bonds issued under the Quality of Life program."
Livermore said that as of Tuesday afternoon, he had not received the letter.
"I haven't gotten any letter at all," he said. "No phone call, no email, nothing."
Five people spoke to the committee about their concerns with Q-18 funds.
Donna Curtis, chairwoman of the city's Parks and Recreation Commission, told the committee that the bill was the only recourse for residents who object to the city's cost-allocation process for those funds.
"Carson City is not listening, so it is proper and appropriate that the Legislature hear this," she said.
Steve Hartman, past chairman of the Open Space Committee, also objected.
"I think this is just bad practice from a governmental standpoint," Hartman said. "This is a specific bill with specific objectives."
AB263 will next be discussed in an Assembly Taxation Committee workshop at a time to be determined, at which time it will either die or be passed on to the Assembly floor.