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City of Reno Sewer Fees

As a new candidate one of the most common questions I get is about what my platform is. One of the things I’d like to see improved in Reno is the rising cost of housing. Yes, this is a free market society and I totally understand how capitalism works, but there are a lot of people who are suffering and it just doesn’t seem right for them to be suffering in such a modern society as we live in. As an accountant I’m regularly torn between letting the free market do it’s thing and letting the market set costs, but the divide between those who can afford to not worry about prices and those who constantly worry about prices seems to be growing.

I’ve been mulling an idea around in my head to help the working poor that are unhoused to get back onto their feet, but it’s still finding its way. In the meantime, the Reno Housing Authority has been seeking funding through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds that the City of Reno has available, and the accountant in me is really curious about some of the details that are in the award.

There are several projects that are part of the $9 million of funding the City Council awarded to Reno House Authority for affordable housing projects, but two stick out to me. These two are both new building projects, and a large portion of the funding they are receiving is to cover “sewer connection fees” on multi-unit buildings. I’ve done the math, and the city is charging $5,445 per unit for sewer connection fees. Let’s say that again. $5,445 per unit in FEES. Does this cover the cost of tearing up the street? If so, I’d expect the price would have some kind of scale of economy so the 205 unit project would have a lower price per unit than the 40 unit project does. Logic leads me to think that this is truly a fee and mostly likely doesn’t cover anything tangible. That sure sounds like a big number for a fee. Yes, it’s great that the city is discounting this fee for these projects, but the city isn’t really losing anything here. They’re going to be reimbursed by the ARPA funds.

It’s not a huge amount, but maybe if the city started actually discounting fees that seem to have no basis to them so more housing could be built, we could start making headway on getting housing back to an affordable cost for our residents. Just a thought.

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