COMMISSIONER, TRI PRINCIPAL AND BROTHEL OWNER LANCE GILMAN RECUSED HIMSELF FROM ANY AND ALL INVOLVEMENT IN THE DISCUSSIONS, INTERVIEWS AND SELECTION OF THE REPLACEMENT FOR SHERIFF ANTINORO IF AND WHEN HE IS RECALLED AT THE APRIL 11th VOTE.
LANCE HAS ALREADY PAID $144,000 ( MINUS $20) FOR A REPLACEMENT SHERIFF…..SO HE MUST NOT FEEL THE NEED TO BE IN THE FORMAL PROCESS SINCE THE REAL PROCESS HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE BEHIND THE SCENES.
MEANWHILE COUNTY REVENUES ARE STILL DECREASING, THE EXPENSES IN ALL DEPARTMENTS ARE STILL INCREASING AND THE SHERIFFS BUDGET WAS THE ONLY ONE PROBED IN DETAIL….THE RESULT BEING NO 24 HOUR COVERAGE IN THE COMMUNITIES IN ORDER TO SAVE THE COUNTY MONEY.
By Nicole Barde
The majority of the meeting was spent on reviewing the county’s tentative 2017-2018 budget but there were a few other items.
If you haven’t already seen the multitude of PR releases, one of three lodging establishments have broken ground at TRI. Dean Haymore, Community Development Director, noted that Studio 6 has broken ground and that there are two other projects with the same investors planning to build on the adjacent property. This is good news for the County and especially the VCTC since the room tax is a major source of revenue for the VCTC.
During Board comments Commissioner TRI principal and brothel owner Lance Gilman read a public statement recusing himself from the interview, selection, and appointment of a replacement sheriff if the Antinoro recall should succeed. He cited that he had no personal conflict of interests but that he was doing it anyway.
SIDENOTE: Even I wasn’t expecting this….it’s ridiculous.
I mean………he financed the recall effort to the tune of $144,000 (minus $20), signed the petition, has a civil suit against the sheriff, backed everyone and anyone running against the sheriff in both elections and had called for a public rebuke of the sheriff several years ago in an open commission meeting ….who would believe that he has no personal conflict of interest?
I have heard that former Sheriff Jim Miller is telling people that he will be going in to clean things up. I think that whomever they select will basically be poison to a large number of people in the next election so it has to be someone who has nothing to lose by taking the appointment now and not running later. Oh well….Who knows?
But I digress……
Commissioner Jack McGuffey announced that he had been meeting with the two HOAs in the Virginia City Highlands and that the idea of a community center has been discussed and the county has agreed to put it on the list of capital projects. This is not a guarantee, it is not soon but it is the beginning of the first steps. There has also been discussion about the speeding issues near the mailboxes and the status of the property adjacent to them. Jack said he’d be meeting with the HOA’s regularly.
Next up was a review of the various Bills at the Legislature which may affect Storey County. The two I’d like to note are the diesel tax bill (adding up to 5 cents to the price of diesel) which was having its first meeting this week. This would reverse the vote of the people for NO new fuel taxes.
The second one of note is SB 57 which County Manager Pat Whitten says “is in peril” and stalled in committee due to the actions of the V&T Commission project manager Candy Duncan. Both Washoe and Douglas County are in favor of the bill and want off the Commission.
Next was a discussion about a road and property issue out in the Mark Twain area which I wouldn’t normally mention since it’s very procedural but thought I’d mention this time. What I find wonderful about where we live is that history is ALIVE. As they were discussing the current issues and looking at property lines etc., etc. the history of the property came up and a local resident, Mr. Zachary, gave some history about the area, its former owners and about how the specific properties came into being. A local history lesson. Gotta love it!
Next came County Comptroller Hugh Gallagher’s review of the tentative budget. Hugh did a brief summary of each department but you can read each department detail HERE.
He stated that the decline of revenues were due in part to lower than expected “centrally assessed” numbers….meaning that we are under by about $500k in property taxes. When the recession hit, the property values declined thus decreasing the assessed and taxable values. Since we have a property tax cap in place as the values have gone up the corresponding tax increase has been very slow to go up. This is GREAT for us as property owners….it’s bad for the county since its expenses are going up faster than the taxes they collect. Oh, and then all those tax abatements given to TRI companies don’t help the revenue picture either.
SIDENOTE: Jack has reported several times that there is an effort afoot to somehow mitigate that property tax cap. All other counties find themselves trapped in this way and need more revenues. Meaning that the counties would be able to exceed the cap in another way. Just like increasing the diesel tax after the voters said no. Your government at work!
Anyway, Hugh made a point to mention that when they forecast revenues they do it conservatively and with the data that they have at hand. That things do happen throughout the year that affects the revenues and that he feels that the revenues might go up as we progress thru the year.
Next came a review of each of the department budgets. Net-Net all departments received salary increases. Many were prescribed thru NRS or labor contracts and some were as a result of salary adjustments or reclassifications in addition to the “step” increases. Additionally, as always, the cost of benefits has gone up and will continue to go up. There were a few added headcounts, some increased capital outlays as a result of new technology requirements and some increase in funding for disaster mitigation to deal with things like the January event.
Net-Net the county is running a $1.9 million dollar deficit……….but don’t worry we still have checks!
Hugh went thru each department briefly until he came to the Sheriffs budget where he then proceeded to administer a public fiscal colonoscopy.
Hugh started by saying that there had been a disagreement with the budget commission during last years budget about the number of vehicles that the sheriff had requested and that this year he had invited both Pat Whitten and Commission Chair Marshall McBride into the discussions to help resolve any issues.
Hugh stated that the issues remaining on this budget relate to the fact that “incidents “are down over last year and that maybe 24 hour coverage may not be necessary in all of the communities. Since Tesla pays for one deputy TRI will get 24 hour coverage….the other communities will have to have to wait and have incidents and deputy protection when there is coverage.
The Sheriff has staffed to be able to cover both ends of the county on a 24 hour basis. There are various ways to staff that…8 hour shifts….10 hour shifts….12 hour shifts. There may be double coverage in some areas. The type of shift affects the number of deputies. It all affects the number of hours and overtime hours worked and that means money. Hugh and apparently Pat and Marshall don’t see the need for 24 hour coverage and believe that the sheriff needs to change the shift hours and structure to save the county money.
Additionally, how the deputies pick up their vehicles is also an issue for Hugh, Pat and Marshall. Apparently it is being done in a way that adds mileage to the vehicles since the deputies have to get the vehicle from a central location then drive it to their post. Apparently this process means that the cars get older faster and means that new ones have to be purchased more often. Hugh, Pat and Marshall want the Sheriff to save the county money and do this in a different way.
Now, nothing was said as to why it is being done in this way….maybe the deputies can’t take the vehicles home due to liability issues. Maybe this is the only way it can legally be done…..we don’t know …the Sheriff wasn’t asked to explain why he is costing the county so much money.
Next up was the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) jail contract. There was no detail given on this so I don’t know how this is a bad thing and how to save the county money on it.
Next was the Fire District.
What was interesting to me is that the Sheriffs budget is a total of $3.7 million dollars and it got dissected in the name of saving the county money. The Fire District budget is $6.2 million with an additional $750,000 in capital and it just sailed thru. The Fire department has shifts and has cars……why wasn’t Hugh telling the Chief how to run his department? Why wasn’t Hugh asking how the Fire District can save the county money?
Tis a puzzlement.
At the end of the budget discussion it was time for public comment. My questions are predictable since I ask them every time. This must bore them.
I got up to ask what the expense drivers were. I mean, besides salaries and benefits which we know will continue to go up. Hugh didn’t understand what “driver” meant. So I rephrased the question and was told about how salaries and benefits are a large part of the budget which will continue to go up. Marshall tried to get me to understand this and was irritated at me for asking. I then asked if we were getting the revenues from TRI that we expected….if Tesla was meeting its contractual obligations to pay the county for services it receives from us and how were we going to increase revenues…..by raising property taxes?
…Marshall, still irritated at me, told me that I was going off topic by talking about Tesla…that this was not about Tesla. That the commission does not want to raise property taxes. So as I left the podium Pat Whitten and the board proceeded to discuss the TRI abatements, Tesla’s payments and clawback provisions to the abatements. The plan that as the older abatements end those revenues will be coming in. But it was not off topic.