Nicole Barde

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

Just a warning…lots of SIDENOTES and digression on my part…..the meeting went from 10-2:30…I was a hungry cranky girl by the end of it.

The first item that was discussed was the resolution honoring Shaun Griffin for his spectacular contributions to Storey County. Shaun is retiring from Community Chest and will be pursuing other interests until the Fall. He said he’ll come back to help with fundraising.

Shaun and his wife Debbie started Community Chest in 1991 and have grown it to be a significant resource for children and their families in Storey County as well as the state. Shaun has been an tireless champion of service and support for those most vulnerable among us and has built a strong staff of 30 people who will carry on his legacy.

It was an emotional meeting and Shaun received a much deserved standing ovation. Good bye Shaun and thanks so much for all you have done to make Storey County a great place to live!

Under staff updates:

Cherie Nevin, Community Service Manager, reported that there will be several flu shot clinics scheduled in the future as well as a back to school vaccination clinic. Dates TBA.

John and Merilee Miller from Lockwood/Rainbow Bend reported on Louise Peri Park and the community garden. The park is in need of infant playground equipment due to new residents moving into that community…happy to hear that!

Deny Dotson, VCTC Director, reported that this year’s Hot August Nights was a great success. He reminded us that three years ago we only had about 100 cars for the event and that this year there were over 350. We pay around $25,000 to have the event in V.C….I just hope that the event is worth that investment.

Austin Osborn, Planning Director, Administrative Officer and Assistant County Manager I guess, reported that CMI will be giving their annual compliance review at the Planning Commission meeting.

Pat Whitten, County Manager, indignantly reported that there was a scurrilous and fake news story published in a “garbage” publication about the outsourcing of Community Development. He stressed that it was a lie and that it was not happening. Needless to say he was referring to the SATIRICAL piece penned by Sam Toll of the Storey Teller (HERE). Sam later got up to inform Pat that if he couldn’t tell that the piece was a satire by the name of the Union Rep “Joe Mahmah “ that there was nothing he could do to help Pat.

Meanwhile, it is curious to me that there is a denial that the outsourcing is or was going to happen since I’ve been told that the Union had to step in to stop it.

But I digress.

Pat also reported that Community Development Director Gary Hames’, Battle Born consulting transition is going swimmingly. Pat said that there is internal restructuring going on.. that they have hired Melissa Fields to replace Stacy Buccinieri , and that they have transferred 2 fire personnel into Community Development in order to provide “one stop shopping” for all things building.

SIDE NOTE: I wonder if those fire personnel had to give up any benefits for this (forced) move. It is my understanding that the pension plan for fire is different than for regular county employees. Just a thought.

But I digress.

Pat also reported that Community Development is relying on third party building inspectors paid for by the companies themselves. Tesla has 4 on their payroll. Hopefully there is no liability to the county if they make a mistake!

The ribbon cutting for the opening of USA Parkway is on August 28th at 11am at the Lyon Storey County lines.

Agenda item #11 was a resolution honoring Rob DuFresne for his 25 years of service in the Storey County Fire Protection District. Thanks Rob for your service and keeping us all safe!

Next up was more discussion about the Effluent Pipeline Project. In a nutshell….they continue to sell the pipeline and to talk about the need for water out at TRIC. They continue to declare that it is not a developer expense. They continue to declare how critical it is to have the pipeline so that more companies will move out there and existing ones can expand. They continue to stress that you need a LOT of water for the manufacturing that is moving into the region. They even used the scare tactic that if we didn’t have the pipeline that the deadly effluent water would poison the Truckee.

SIDE NOTE: Really? Like that’s actually happening with all the regulation and testing.

I just wanted to scream STOP IT !!! WE ARE NOT STUPID !!!

No one, especially me, is arguing that there is not a need for water at TRIC. Everyone understands that you need a lot of water for manufacturing. We are not stupid.

I worked for 20 years in semi-conductor … I KNOW how much water it takes to run a factory…been there…done that.


There is opposition to just giving TRIC another $35 million dollars to pay for their expenses and Storey County citizens getting nothing for it.

WE GET NOTHING….No revenue share, no TRIC debt decrease, and no direct citizen or community benefit.

What we get is the $35 million dollar debt and the added expenses of having to provide services to all the companies at TRIC. Remember, the biggies have tax abatements which is limiting revenues for us. We still have to pay .35 cents on the dollar of actual revenues to pay back the TRIC debt and we will have to commit future revenues to pay back the bond and they want more. Bottom line we have growing expenses and limited revenues under this scheme.

But I digress..

Pat Whitten and Commission Chair Marshall McBride stressed that the pipeline was not a developer expense since there is a need for water at TRIC and the infrastructure to deliver it is outside their scope of responsibility….and that it must fall to Storey County and the state to provide it.

SIDE NOTE: To that I say….BS and so should you.

Marshall was told that the ownership of the pipeline would go to the TRIC GID. Since the ownership of that pipeline will transfer to the TRIC GID why aren’t THEY paying for it? Since TRIC has for years and years been buying up water rights to provide water to TRIC why isn’t this ( pipeline) water expense like all the other water expenses and a TRIC responsibility? If the state was so concerned about water out at TRIC why didn’t the state help them buy the water rights?

Why do WE have to pay for it?

But I digress.

In the continuing effort to sell the need for the pipeline the Switch representative even got up to declare that Switch is committed to use alternative energy sources and that the use of recycled water fits into their overarching strategy to do just that. He further stressed that they are committed to be part of the community and that the pipeline is a win-win for everyone.

SIDENOTE:My head exploded at this point.

Part of the community? WHAT community? I don’t see Switch or Tesla or Panasonic sponsoring or underwriting community events or giving meaningfully to any of our local non-profits. Walmart and some of the older TRICC residents have done a good job of contributing and to his credit Lance thru TRIC and the Mustang gives time and money to our community. They are front and center about it. I have yet to see any visible support of our community by the new well heeled tech players at TRIC…..yet they want our money to fund their pipeline. Right.

But I digress.

There was discussion about the structure of the debt and the payback terms and conditions. Net-Net the state is backing the bond. The state will pay a portion of the bond with the 2% of taxes that they get from TRIC. What that means is that the State takes their cut of TRIC revenues first…that cut is 2%. From that 2% of TRIC revenue they apply 1% towards the repayment of the bond. The $~2.1 million dollar annual bond payment will be split about 55-45 between state and county….with Storey having the $~55% burden.

At this point Commissioner Jack McGuffey stated that he wanted protections against a revenue shortfall and also said that this is “basically free money” from the state. He had to be corrected by Las Vegas consultant Jeremy Aguero who told him that no, there was interest to be paid and that there were conditions that had to be met.

The question of what happens if there are revenue shortfalls due to recession or other reasons was brought up. The answer was that although the state is backing the bond to the outside bond holders that if Storey County could not make the payment that the state would go after and take the county’s “uncommitted fund balances”…i.e. our accounts on hand with the state treasury. Bottom-line…. STOREY COUNTY IS ON THE HOOK FOR THIS PAYMENT

There was other discussion about the decision not to include the school district funds, when our breakeven point would be, if the projections included all revenues, where the excess waterfall revenues would go, and how future abatements would affect the revenue projections. The purpose of this meeting was to authorize Pat Whitten to go forward with the process to find these answers and scope out the details of the deal.

Bob Sader, TRIC attorney, was asked by Marshall if Roger Norman would be open to backstopping the county if there was a revenue shortfall. By backstop he meant, would Roger write the check for the payments if we couldn’t. Bob said that he couldn’t commit but that they were open to discussions.

At this point Pat Whitten said that in addition to the Las Vegas TRIC consultant, Jeremy Aguero, that he has hired additional consulting power to look this thing over from a financial standpoint. He also noted that there was an old story in the “This is Reno” publication from May 2017 (HERE) that cited that all of the costs associated with the pipeline would be paid for by TRIC. He said that it may have been the case in May but that “every day things change”. Well…..why do they always change in favor of TRIC and to the citizen’s financial detriment?

SIDENOTE: There are a lot of moving parts to this deal. Not all of them are nailed down or will be by the time it gets signed…..which is what concerns me. Sam Toll brought up this point by saying that it’s like Nancy Pelosi’s comment about Obamacare….” We have to pass it in order to know what’s in it”. While it’s good that people are working on clarifying the details…..the bottom line is that this is DONE DEAL and that they are just trying to get as much granularity to the financial specifics as possible to sign the contract. I have no problem with the pipeline but I do not believe that having the county on the hook for this thing is right, prudent or to our benefit.

During Public Comment Kris Thompson got up during public comment to scare the bejeezus out of parents and Native Americans everywhere. He said that the Truckee River is a lifeline in our region and that by building this pipeline we are keeping Sparks/Reno from dumping effluent into the river. That the pipeline will help in terms of mitigating “an event” which if that happens would result in “carnage” on wildlife and children as well as threaten the livelihood of the native tribes downstream.

Yes, he said exactly that.

Then he said that TRIC is aware of the questions and concerns of citizens since he/they/it monitor the local blog. Thankfully he did not call anyone an activist or butt ugly in this meeting.

Karlyn McPartland, Highlands’s resident, got up to say that since TRIC is a private business why is Storey County paying for the pipeline for them.

San Toll got up to give Pat Whitten several sheets of a petition signed by about 20 citizens in opposition to the funding of the pipeline coming from Storey County. He also made comments relating to the seen and unseen consequences of growth and the pipeline. He noted that Storey County has already spent about $110 million dollars as part of “cost of doing business” with TRIC and the State. This is in the form of paying for TRIC infrastructure like the I80 interchange, the rail spur and bridge, giving them the completed part of USA Parkway for them to sell at a profit, now the pipeline and other items. He also noted that although there are many jobs being created out at TRIC that given the average wage paid by those jobs and the median cost of housing in the area that few of those folks can afford to live near their work. Additionally, he also noted that there is a cost as a result of the increased traffic that TRI brings to the area.

I also got up to say that our county services will have to increase as a result of the growth at TRIC. I asked where the money will come from to pay for these services after we mortgage our future revenues to pay the bond and pay out 35% of the remaining revenues to repay the TRIC debt. I was basically told that there will be a waterfall of gushing revenues after we pay the bond as a result of all the new business and expansion that will occur at TRI because of the pipeline.

I felt the cow leaving the farm for a handful of beans at this point.

Next came item #13 which was essentially a rewriting of Pat Whitten’s job description as County manager. The Agenda item as written gave some the impression that the changes would include Pat’s ability to write and approve ordinances, policy and contracts on his own without Commission approval. This is not what it turned out to be. It was referring to how they would codify the job description once it was rewritten. At any rate the item was discussed as part of what is laughingly called a “workshop” and the decision pushed to another meeting after they clean up the three versions of the job description.

The rest of the meeting was fairly procedural and so it mercifully ended after 4 and ½ hours.

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