By Nicole Barde

You can find the agenda packet HERE and County Manager Pat Whitten’s summary HERE. If you want to listen to the meeting you can find the recording HERE.

During Staff updates Bum Hess the County’s paid lobbyist gave a very brief update on the trip that he and Commissioner Lance Gilman took in January to the inauguration in Washington D.C. He basically said that they met with a lot of people and did networking. Among those they met with they met with Rep. Gordon Lane (?) the Louisiana Representative who is a key player in the postal bill that contains our zip code fix. He also repeated his last update about the few bills being worked on in the Nevada Legislature this session. He said that out of the 200 bills currently in the pipeline about 80% will die.

Cherie Nevin, Community Services Director, reported that there was going to be a workshop on how to get the FEMA funds made available as a result of the January winter disaster declaration, that the SBA has loans available to small businesses who also sustained damage and that she is working with NDOT to see about getting additional federal funding to help fix 6 Mile Canyon….which is still closed due to storm damage.

County Comptroller Hugh Gallagher reported that the 2017-2018 budget process is proceeding well. He indicated that there are, as usual, a number of unfunded mandates coming down from the state and that those numbers will get added into the budgets as they become available. He also said that he is still searching for an external auditing firm to replace Pringle Associates. He has until March 31st to make the selection.

County Manager Pat Whitten reported that there are numerous bills going thru the legislature that will affect us. One of them is a BDR (Bill Draft Request) that will allow 15 rural counties to raise the diesel tax. This is the same tax that the voters in those counties voted down. Pat was very clear that this was not to negate the vote of the people on their no vote on Fuel tax indexing, but to allow for an increase in the diesel tax.

SIDENOTE: Read that again.  Not to negate the vote of the people on their NO VOTE ON FUEL TAX indexing……but to ALLOW AN INCREASE IN diesel TAXWHAT??!? This is word parsing at its best. Since all 15 counties are doing this it isn’t a Pat Whitten deal………it seems like every time the voters say NO ON NEW TAXES….the government finds a way to say “screw you” and do it anyway. This happened with Sandoval and the business tax and now this. Why do they bother to let us vote? Why are we stupid enough to let them do this to us???

Pat then went on to say that they are also looking at how they can use monies collected as part of the ¼ cent infrastructure tax for things that are not infrastructure. The NRS on this is very specific….it is ONLY to be used for infrastructure. Pat mentioned that they would use it to fund the Senior Center, contract services, jail meal expenses and medical.

Later in the meeting during the Board update Commissioner Jack McGuffey stated that the Counties, thru NACO, are looking at how to raise the property tax cap!

SIDENOTE: I am confused…as always. It is obvious that Pat, and the Commission is trying to find ways to fund county operations, especially in light of the unfunded mandates that keep getting imposed on us. What confuses me is that we have TRI…..the golden goose which makes us the richest county in the world. Why are we scrambling for money when TRI is supposed to be raining riches on us? In his 2014 Christmas Letter Lance pointed to “Epic victories in Economic Development” and thru that economic prosperity he will give us a property tax reduction as a result of the “massive near term new capital investments from incoming companies coming into our County tax base”.  WHAT?

WHERE’S THE BEEF????  With all the major and not so major companies moving to TRI why haven’t those revenues met the expense needs of the county? Is TRI costing us money or are we massively increasing services to non TRI related communities? On a broader scale, are all of the abatements and deals that the State has made with companies to get them to move to Nevada costing us money? The cost burden of these abatements seems to be flowing onto the backs of the taxpayers…..maybe I’m imagining it but an increase in fuel tax, business tax and property tax doesn’t feel like economic prosperity to me regardless of the many jobs being created.

Although it’s not a straight across comparison there is a legal effort in Phoenix, Arizona to mitigate or stop this type of cost shifting…you can find the article HERE.

Lastly Pat noted that there would be a workshop in Reno on Friday March 10th regarding AB 153. That’s the proposed bill that would have us paying an impact fee to Washoe and surrounding counties because of TRI related activity.

During Board update Commissioner Jack McGuffey reported that there will be a V&T Rail Commission workshop on Friday March 10th to review the BDR submitted by Storey County to restructure that commission.

He also reported that the Postal bill containing the resolution to our zip code issue (and to give us our proper tax revenue) will take years to implement even if it passes. He felt that based on the many meetings that he and Commission Chair Marshall McBride had during their recent NACO meeting in Washington D.C. that it has a good chance of passing. But….legislation being what it is there are riders associated with the postal bill which may derail it. One rider is from Florida which attaches a Medicare element to it. Go figure…..

The Commission appointed a Board of Appeals for Building Codes. The appointees are Pete Mulvihill, Jay Carmona and Pete Dube. Congratulations to all and especially to Jay Carmona….a Highlands neighbor!

Lastly there were a couple of business/cabaret and liquor license approvals. The Canvass Café run by Alexia Sober and Richard Oates got their approval. YAY!!!!!

Additionally, Tina Perkins received both the liquor and cabaret licenses for the Bonanza saloon. I’m very happy to see this since I know that she’s worked hard to get the Delta fully operational and now the Bonanza will add another dining venue to the town and more importantly JOBS!

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