By Nicole Barde

The agenda for this meeting can be found HERE, County Manager Pat Whitten’s summary HERE and a recording of the meeting HERE.

Before I begin I’d like to say that the County resources have gone above and beyond in dealing with last week’s snow and flood event. The Public Works, Fire and Emergency response personnel deserve our everlasting thanks for working non-stop to respond quickly to a near catastrophic event for many people. They kept two way communications going 24/7 so that residents would know the status of activities and issues. They called in the National Guard to help and private citizens pitched in with their equipment to help as well.  

Besides keeping the County roads clear they had an immediate response the Lockwood’s water issues,  they pitched in to help the Highlands who had many residents stranded as a result of the snow, they rescued people, they delivered fuel and supplies, they dug people out of their driveways, created passable roads, made onsite repairs, performed mitigating actions…………and they worked without sleep until it all got done. All without complaint and without confusion. These folks weren’t just a “government” doing its job it was neighbors helping neighbors in every corner of this county.  Jay Carmona and Gary Brownwell of the 10 and 1 acre Associations in the Highlands were mentioned several times as amazing in the work that they did to try and keep the Highlands clear during the emergency.

 This is the best of what living in a small community is all about. THANK YOU!

Secondly I want to highlight upfront one of the things that was mentioned as part of Staff updates by Dean Haymore. He reported that as a result of the State of Emergency Declaration on January 7th that the County will be conducting a damage assessment and plans to apply for State financial relief and plans to apply for Federal financial relief. This application for financial relief extends to residents and businesses.  IF YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS HAS SUSTAINED ANY DAMAGE AS A RESULT OF THE SNOW/FLOOD EVENTS PLEASE CALL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AT 847-0966 LET THEM KNOW THAT YOU’D LIKE TO BE INCLUDED IN THE ASSESSEMNT.

This is no promise or guarantee of direct financial compensation to repair or replace your damage. The “relief” may be in the form of low interest loans. Also remember that this is the government…it may be nothing!  You have nothing to lose by getting included in the assessment.

Ok on to the meeting…Just a note…everyone who reported including the Commissioners lauded the efforts of the county employees and the tremendous teamwork they exhibited. I will not repeat it every time but know that each of these Department heads thanked and praised the efforts of all who contributed to the managing of this disaster.

Sheriff Antinoro thanked the members of CERT who assisted as part of the emergency response efforts. They searched the Truckee river banks early in the week to find and evacuate any homeless that might not have known of the severe flood risk, they manned flooded streets to direct traffic, they filled and distributed sandbags.

Deny Dotson, Executive Director of the VCTC reported that they have released  a video compilation of last year’s events and compiled a draft of the 2017 events calendar. He also noted that this year’s promotional activities will include TV spots, which is new for the VCTC to do.

Dave Ballard , Communications Manager reported that the server room at the jail facility flooded and was very close to losing $500k worth of equipment. The water was pooling behind the facility and a trench had to be dug to divert the water away from the building. This is a temporary solution but should work for now. Additionally they lost a couple of mountain top communication devices in the storm.

Dean Haymore, Community Development Director, reported that so far they have assessed approximately $6.3 million in damage county wide. There wasn’t any real damage at TRI, a bit at Tesla but not major. Dean went on to give a timeline of events:

Jan 4th during the melt the water in Mark Twain became the first issue.  6 mile went out, the residents in Mark Twain had each done their own flood mitigation efforts which makes sense from a personal accountability standpoint to protect individual property but also created an issue with the “natural water flow” which exacerbated water damage in other areas

Jan 7th the County declared a state of emergency. At this point Dean and staff did a quick damage assessment in order to access FEMA resources and relief.  The State of Nevada used the assessment reports of 4 counties to apply for a Federal Declaration. This will help in accessing Federal funds.

Jan 8 and beyond. After the melt then the snow became the issue again especially in the Highlands where some residents had to be rescued. The Highlands equipment couldn’t keep up with the snow load and so County resources went in to try and help. Jason Van Havel, Public Works Director and Highlands’s resident, personally ran equipment to help out. The National Guard and Forestry Department were called in to help with snow removal in VC and VCH.

There was a pile up of debris in the Painted Rock area at the bridge and the local construction companies offered and quickly sent resources to clear it before it did any damage.

Dean thanked all those in the emergency command center, including Commissioners Marshall McBride, and Jack McGuffy and especially Cherie Nevin who helped keep things moving.

Jason Van Havel, Public Works Director reported that the Highlands got over 3 ½ inches of snow in a 24 hour period which is ½ of the annual average….and it went up from that. He reported that the equipment was in service 24/7 but beginning to break down and that between January 4 -14 his staff was working 100 hour weeks.

Austin Osborn, HR and Planning Director, as well as Public Information Officer (PIO) said that Mark Twain is part of the current flood planning process and that the final plan should be done by 2018 and then the process to secure the funds to implement it will begin.

Austin also reported that the use of Social Media as the primary communication tool  during this emergency made all the difference in the world in the quick response of both the county resources and the citizens of the county…..this is in contrast to relying on phone contact as the primary tool in the past.

Gary Hames, Fire Chief, reported that in addition to assisting with the snow and flood events that the Department also responded to a fire on Lousetown Road in the Highlands.

Hugh Gallagher, Comptroller, provided an overview of the results of the 2016 financial audit, you can find it HERE.

In Summary:

            Whereas Capital Assets increased a bit Total Net Assets decreased as a result of the new PERS ruling requiring the County to carry that liability on the books.

            Revenues grew at a slower rate than the past and Expenditures grew a bit faster. The tax cap on home (3%) and businesses (8%) are affecting overall revenue growth however, License permits and services grew as a result of the growth at TRI.  Out of $2.2 million approximately $900k of licenses is due to TRI and out of $3.2 million $800k of services are from Tesla specifically.  On the expense side Public Safety is approximately $1.7 million of the $2.4 million increase in expenses over last year and Highways and Streets is about $500k.

The Net Revenues over Expenditure is $856, 802. This is way down from $1,476,365 in the prior year.

The General Fund is higher compared to last year but lower compared to the year before that.

The Fire District expenses and revenues have both increased over last year and are 30-40% higher than 2 years ago.

Next up was the list of shame………..those departments with excess expenditures. Hugh said he felt comfortable with the reasons for the overages….I think that I would agree that the Fire Departments overage of $106,277 over their budget due to responding to unforeseen emergencies is acceptable but I don’t know how Deny Dotson’s VCTC overage of $90,428 over his approved budget is OK.

Last but not least….we still have checks! Storey County has a borrowing cap of $51 million.  That plus our unreserved ending fund balance of $21.7 million makes us financially “stable”.

SIDENOTE…I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I don’t care how much money we have in the bank……….revenue growth has been slowing over time and expenses increasing over time……when does prosperity kick in?

Next up was Tom Gansbury the County’s outside tax consultant who has been helping the County navigate getting off of SCCRT (Guaranteed Share).  Up until recently Storey County has been on Guaranteed Share whereby we accept a State payment in lieu of keeping all of the taxes we collect. We did this because our taxes were not enough to run the county effectively so we, and other small rural counties, get a share of all taxes collected by the state. Once TRI started to generate meaningful taxes the Commission determined that Storey County would do better financially if we went off of Guaranteed Share and relied on our tax revenues. Tom was here to give an update on how we did in this first 18 months off GS. Net-Net the County’s taxes yielded approximately $358k OVER what they would have gotten thru GS. This is very good….especially since once you go off of GS…you can never go back on.

County Manager Pat Whitten congratulated Dean Haymore for being selected as one of the 10 most influential people in Nevada by the Northern Nevada Business Weekly (NNBW). 

Pat also mentioned that Tom Gansbury will next work on helping the County index our fuel/diesel tax.

SIDENOTE…this confused me since the voters of Storey County voted this down…which means NO NEW TAXES. So……….what does this mean I wonder?

The Communications center equipment will be moved out of the basement of the Training Center in St. Mary’s until a permanent place can be found.

Pat noted that Commissioner Gilman was absent at the meeting because he was on his way to Washington DC for the inauguration and to do some “elbow rubbing” and a possible meeting with the new President.

Lastly, Pat mentioned that one of the chimneys on the Courthouse roof fell during the storm (another one fell since the meeting)….obviously they can’t go up there yet to look at the damage yet!


That’s about it…stay warm and safe!





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