By Nicole Barde

County Manager Pat Whitten’s summary can be found HERE, the agenda packet for this meeting can be found HERE.

Staff updates were brief with Dave Ballard, County Communications, reporting that the 911 system upgrade is almost complete. Gary Hames, Fire Chief, also commended Dave for this upgrade to the call system. Essentially when we dial 911 it goes to Washoe County first then back to Storey and that adds about 8-10 minutes to Storey County’s response time in some areas by the time it relays back to our staff. Gary Hames also reported that the Highlands and 6 Mile fuel reduction grant has been completed.

Austin Osborn, Planning and HR, reported that bids for the Black and Howell lot reconstruction will be taken on January 22. He also reported that there will be a Master Plan workshop in Mark Twain on January 22 at 6pm. The last opportunity for community inputs to the Master Plan will be in a couple of months when he’ll do a road show thru each community then go to the Planning and County Commission boards for final approvals.

Dean Haymore, Community Development, reported that there is a big new company out in TRI… There will be press conference next week in Reno to make the formal announcement.

Pat Whitten, County Manager, said that they are trying to get a TRI newsletter together to get the word out on what is going on in TRI.

Hugh Gallagher, County Comptroller, gave a brief update on the quarterly financials. It looks like all of the departments are coming in on target (50% of budget used) with few exceptions. The Fire district is at 55% and will go over if the last quarter has the usual spike. Roads are at 51% but costs on materials have been well managed. Emergency Management is at 71% due to TRI issues which weren’t discussed. Then VCTC is over due to Visitor Center expenses, Vendor commissions and Capital outlay. There is some detail on this in my VCTC report of the January 14th VCTC meeting HERE.

Hugh went on to say that Storey County is the only county in the state that has such a smooth financial review and budget process and that we do it better than any other county. The 2016-2017 budget process begins soon. He teased that he is targeting a reduction of property taxes for both residential and commercial properties in the amount of $500,000…but that he still doesn’t have all the information yet.

The agenda proceeded with item #14…the approval of a $99,400 bid to repair the Gold Hill Depot. This will allow for its use as an event venue for VCTC to rent out and use.

Item #15 was a “workshop” to discuss the revisions to the County’s business and liquor license application, investigation and approval codes. In addition to bringing the language in the Codes into compliance with NRS, and clarifying/eliminating unclear or ambiguous passages, Pat Whitten suggests centralizing most of the business and liquor license processing within Dean Haymore’s Community Development Department. He also wants to strengthen the investigative aspects of the process, specifically the financial viability aspect.

If approved by the Commission most of the licensing tasks currently performed by the Sheriff’s Office except fingerprinting and criminal checks would be moved to Community Development. The rationale being that CD already does a great deal of the same activities, including vetting and investigation, and it has a system and staff in place to do it. Several people commented at how efficient and friendly Community Development is to do business with from a business perspective. It was emphasized that centralizing these activities would give customers more of a “one stop shop” to get their business done.

It is a consolidation of tasks which may make sense organizationally. It would work like this: The customer goes to Community Development and gets the full application packet, then goes to the Sheriff’s Office for fingerprinting and sets up inspections with the Fire Department. The customer returns the filled out applications to CD, CD sends the financials to Hugh Gallagher to check financial viability, sends applications to an external third party investigative company for full investigation and CD does the rest of the processing including setting up up the Commission hearings for approvals. This will add more work and potentially require added staff to the Comptroller’s office.

During the meeting Pat Whitten stated that they were going to use Gladding & Michel Inc. for the external third party investigations instead of the Sheriff’s Office. He further stated that it would only be about $750 per application but that it would be a more thorough investigation. Given the large numbers of applications this is a lot of money. Assuming 100 new applications that’s $75,000 at a minimum. I don’t recall seeing a bid process for this large a contract, I wonder why not.

During the discussions Sheriff Antinoro asked a question about clarifying what would constitute the factors for a denial of business or liquor license. As it reads now there is no defined criterion that a business owner needs to meet in order to show business viability and yet you can be denied a license for not meeting some undefined criteria(…like playing tennis on a court with no lines and not knowing whether you are in or out until someone calls “out”). The Sheriff has previously brought up that many of the “C” street businesses have had financial issues and yet managed to be successful. So the question is “What is the standard for business viability and how will we be consistent in its application”.?

In my mind to leave it undefined and ambiguous can lead to the perception of arbitrary decisions by the board and a potential repeat of legal action such as the one filed by Mr. Malfitano. There was no answer to this question except to say they will look at it again.

There were several “issues” cited by the DA’s office in the revision of the CODES.

staff summary codes

All were discussed but Item B regarding the appearance of a conflict by the sheriff seemed out of place to me and was never really fully explained. The Sheriff has no business interests in VC or stake in the outcome of an investigation so I can’t see how this is a reason to justify removing the licensing process from the Sheriff’s Office. The organizational change also begs the question for me that by placing the majority of activities with Community Development will it also mean that Dean Haymore will replace the Sheriff on the business licensing boards? If so, how would the appearance of conflict in that case be dealt with since his department will be doing the investigations? We’ll have to wait for the second hearing to know more.

There were also comments made that the details of the results of the background/criminal reports were known only by the sheriff and there was a discussion about why the information isn’t part of the staff package. The Sheriff assumed that the information was getting into the package but apparently it was not. The need for confidentiality was discussed and Dean Haymore said that his department has the requirement for confidentiality stipulated as part of agreements with various TRI companies and that Community Development had recently passed the audit on that process. I hope this confidentiality extends to the financial review conducted by Hugh Gallagher. I just wonder how prospective “C” street businesses would feel if they thought that their competitors (2 of our commissioners) saw the details of their finances.

During public comment Bruce Kittress, citizen, stated that he has never heard of the Carson Sheriff being accused of conflict on that Liquor Board.

I also got up and said that we have 2 commissioners Lance Gilman and Marshall McBride voting on the approval of business and liquor licenses. Both of them are business owners in competition with some “C” street business which they would be evaluating. I asked how that doesn’t create an appearance of conflict.

Ann Langer and Bob Morris replied that they would explain it to me after the meeting. I asked them to tell me on the record. Bob Morris said that the Open Meeting Law states that as long as the commissioners disclose their possible conflict and as long as they have no pecuniary interest that they clear the appearance of conflict. I asked why then the Sheriff couldn’t also disclose that he did the investigation and that he had no pecuniary interest and therefore allow him to keep the investigative tasks as well as be on the liquor board. I got no real answer.

A side note: In the December VCTC Meeting, VCTC Board member and County Commissioner Lance Gilman stated that he had seen an uptick in his VC restaurant business since the Delta and Bonanza closed. He stated this during a conversation regarding the limited options for visitors looking for places to eat in VC. That being said, it seems that he does derive some benefit from there being fewer eating establishments…so how is that not a perceived conflict to his being on the licensing boards? Why single out the Sheriff as “having an appearance of conflict “?

Nick Guerra, VC business owner, also got up and made the comment that he would not like to see the commission stripping the Sheriff of duties for arbitrary reasons. That he has found the sheriff to be a fair and impartial person and that sometimes he didn’t agree with his decision but always felt him to be fair.

Items # 18 and #19 were complete mysteries to me by the end of the lengthy discussion. They were the second readings for the Business then the Liquor License for the Delta Saloon, for Tina Perkins. I have to say that I think that there is some sort of curse on this agenda item. I say curse because every time it’s on an agenda it gets confused or otherwise derailed. Either way it gotten pushed out to the next meeting under a cloud of confusion.

As I reported in the summary of the December 15th Commission meeting (minutes are part of the current meeting packet) The first reading for Delta liquor license under Tina Perkins was part of the Dec 15th consent agenda and was approved. Afterwards DA Ann Langer got up to say it had been agenized as a liquor license only and that the agenda/staff request submitted was for business and liquor license.

After a lot of discussion of who’s on first, what’s on second…and a request for public comment..the Sheriff said it would be corrected and split into separate Business and Liquor licenses on the agenda at the next meeting (Jan 5th).

In looking at the paper trail for this December 15 agenda …the sheriff’s office sent a generic request for inclusion on the consent agenda. The Agenda request, signed by both Pat Whitten and Sheriff Antinoro asked for both a general and liquor license to be put on the consent agenda where first readings go. Then it shows up as liquor only on the agenda. Where did the ball get dropped? Confusion #1.

The January 5th meeting rolls around and the request for Delta Liquor and Business licenses under Tina Perkins is on the regular agenda for the second reading, split into business and liquor licenses as promised but the Sheriff asks that it gets pushed out to the next meeting ( Jan 19th) so he can review the results of the investigation. Push out #1.

The January 19th meeting rolls around and the request for Delta Liquor and Business licenses under Tina Perkins is on the regular agenda for the second reading under Items #18, #19 carried over from the January 5th meeting. The agenda request form is for both business and Liquor….everything looks OK on paper…ready to go. BUT NO! …..WAIT!

It is stated by DA Langer that this is just a first reading since the December 15th reading was incorrectly agenized and THAT first reading wasn’t really a first reading…so THIS has to be the first reading. WHAT? Where did the ball get dropped? Does DA Langer only review the meeting documents real-time during the meeting? If DA Langer knew in December, or even at the January 5th meeting that there was a question on the validity of the December 15th first reading why did she wait until we were ready to hear the agenda item to disallow it? It would have been professional, yet kind to have let Tina Perkins know before the meeting that it was going to be a first reading. Pushout #2

After all the talk about making it easy for customers to do business with Storey County, and how wonderful our customer service is for people who do business here…..It seems to me that Tina Perkins is the poster child for what happens when the county doesn’t like you and the horse you rode in on

During Public Comment Mr. Malfitano, owner of the Delta and Bonanza saloons got up to say that the first reading was approved as part of the consent agenda in the December 15th 2015 meeting and that today should be the second reading. Marshall McBride, Commission Chair, restated the official position and Mr. Malfitano disagreed and sat down. Later during the discussion when Mr. Malfitano got back up and wanted to comment about something that had been said Marshall told him to sit down since he had already had his “ bite of the apple” and couldn’t get back up to talk again. Mr. Malfitano continued to make his statement over Marshall’s order to sit down. Marshall told him to sit down or he’d call a recess and have the Sheriff escort him from the building. Mr. Malfitano sat down.

The next agenda item # 20 was the approval for $238,200 for the completion of the courthouse parking lot. Austin Osborn asked that it get pulled permanently from the agenda. I wonder why.

Item #21 was the approval of the re-zoning of the Washoe land that the county got for TRI two years ago. Lance recused himself and it was approved.

Lastly about 20 business licenses were approved.

And so it goes.

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