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July 31, 2014

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Gov. Brian Sandoval says no to taxes, yes to water fees

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval opposes new taxes, but he has no reservations about boosting fees or imposing new ones for state water permits.

Sandoval’s budget includes an increase in fees of $1 million over to next two years for services provided by the state Engineer’s Office. In most cases, the fees are raised by 20 percent.

For instance, the $300 charge for filing an application to drill for water would go to $360, and the charge to change an existing water right would go from $40 to $240.

Most of the extra money raised would go to hire five new staffers to take care of the backlog of those seeking water permits.

A joint Senate-Assembly budget subcommittee on Thursday approved the recommendation of Sandoval for the higher and new fees to support the state Engineer’s Office.

New fees include $25 for examination and filing a notice of intent to drill a well and $480 for inspection of flood control detention basins.

The engineer’s office informed the subcommittee that it posted the proposed new fees and got little response from the public.

The subcommittee also reluctantly backed Sandoval’s recommendation to hire six new environmental scientists and engineers to monitor and inspect air pollution sources.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has adopted tighter regulations for checking sources of such pollutants as carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, particulate and sulfur dioxide.

The state’s Division of Environmental Protection had asked for 11 new workers, but the governor reduced that to six.

Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, chairman of the subcommittee, said he was reluctant to approve the governor’s recommendation. “I’m concerned we’re not going far enough,” he said.

Unless the state steps up its inspections, it could face sanctions and loss of federal funds, the subcommittee was informed.

The money for the six new positions will come from a switch in funds in the existing budget.

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