THIS WAS A VERY INTERESTING MEETING DUE TO THE UPDATES ON FEDERAL AND LOCAL MATTERS GIVEN BY UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN MARK AMODEI AND STOREY COUNTY FEDERAL LOBBYIST AND UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN (NV-RET) JON PORTER.
THE WILD HORSES AND HOW MUCH GRAZING THE ENVIRONMENT CAN SUPPORT LOOK TO BE GETTING ON THE RADAR, THERE IS A MEXICO TO CANADA INTERSTATE COMING THRU IN THE FUTURE AND IT LOOKS LIKE YUCCA MOUNTAIN WILL HAPPEN LIKE IT OR NOT.
By Nicole Barde
It was a relatively short content agenda and there were very few staff or Board updates since County Manager Pat Whitten had asked that the staff reports be brief in order to afford the two Congressmen adequate time to present.
Community Chest Executive Director Shawn Griffith announced that the April fundraiser was very successful and that there will be a 25th birthday community reception on June 23rd from 6-8 at a location TBA.
Commissioner Jack McGuffey reported that a meeting was held between Storey County, V & T Rail Commission Chairman Dwight Millard, Commission member and Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell and the Carson City Manager to discuss the use of the ¼ cent sales tax from Storey County. Jack reported that the monies have not been spent for the purpose stipulated in the Interlocal Agreement and that there will be a MOU written between Storey County and Carson City for each jurisdiction to kick in an equal amount to fund the rebuilding of the steam engines. Jack did not discuss the status and future plans for the ¼ cent sales tax monies voted in by Storey County voters and the status of the existing Interlocal Agreement.
Agenda Item #12. Congressman Amodei provided brief updates in the following areas:
-He made some comments about the Storey County Lands bill and that since Storey County has much of its land privately owned that it will have much better control zoning and planning as a result.
-Next steps on the zip code issue need to be carefully thought out since if we make a request (of the Fed/Post Office) and it’s turned down we have to wait 10 years until we can ask again. Pitney Bowes is on board with helping the state come up with a zip plus 4 for the TRI area, or maybe just one zip code for all of Storey County….regardless, the Storey County Board of Commissioners needs to pass a resolution formally requesting help with the zip code issue.
-There is a lot of encouragement on both sides of the hill to get the natural gas pipeline to come into Storey County
-The wild horse issue hasn’t been on the radar for a while but it is about to hit the screen soon. The range just can’t support the needs of cattle, sheep and the horse population. Ranchers in Elko couldn’t turn out as many cattle due to limited feed opportunity given the existing populations. Northern Washoe won’t allow it given the protected sage hen population on that range. The discussion on the horses will heat up and not necessarily about slaughter. The status quo is not acceptable, it affects agriculture and the environment (sage hens). Nevada spends $67 million to feed horses in pens, it’s just not right and that is no solution. It’s not a Lacy J Dalton “let’em run”. All of the players will need to come together to look at the issues.
During the Q and A session I asked Amodei if the horse advocacy groups will have to opportunity to participate in these conversations and he said that there will be two town halls on the topic to get public inputs and that the BLM is the agency running point on this.
-The last two items were somewhat interrelated. He discussed the proposed central West interstate from the Mexico border to the Canadian border named I-11. Although it’s many years away the planning has already begun and potential issues identified not the least of which is locating the highway and right of way. The potential exists for a route thru Fallon which would impact Storey County, TRI, USA parkway and the River District. The net-net is that it will be an economic development driver for the areas it goes thru.
-The other topic was Yucca Mountain. He said this will open up again once Senator Harry Reid retires. Although it has been off the table for several years thanks to Reid’s efforts Amodei believes that it will re-open and the issues that need to be addressed are:
-reprocessing the spent fuel to be safer
-economic development impacts/opportunities
-the land transfer from BLM to the Department of Energy
He mentioned right of ways and land transfers relating to both Yucca and I-11 that sounded like some horse trading would be involved with BLM and others.
Commissioner McGuffey asked about the Monuments Bill and how it took away income producing lands from some of the poorer counties in order to create more public monuments. Amodei responded that yes, that was a problem, a process problem of a lack of coordination between state and local people.
Agenda item # 13. Storey County Federal Lobbyist Jon Porter added to some of Congressman Amodei’s updates:
-Public Lands. A message is being crafted to Congress regarding the needs of and impact on the rurals on this topic
-Yucca Mountain. This will happen despite best efforts to oppose it. Congress would vote yes today but will wait for the new president and Reid’s retirement.
Agenda Item 15 was the discussion and approval of a MOU between Storey County and the Department of Taxation for Storey to review the tax receipts of certain large vendors at TRI to see if the sales and use taxes have been properly reported and credited to Storey County. This is to temporarily address the zip code issues. Pat Whitten stated that this is a huge step in helping Storey County get an accounting of how and if the monies are assigned to Storey County. We’re off the state “guaranteed share” so every penny of tax revenue counts.