AS THE SOUP NAZI WOULD SAY…………NO SOUP FOR YOU!!!!
THE JACK MCGUFFEY DEMANDED -LANCE GILMAN PROMISED PROPERTY TAX RELIEF/ROLLBACK/WINDFALL ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN FOR THE CITIZENS OF STOREY COUNTY…… WELL….. IT IS ALWAYS HAPPENING FOR TRIC AND THE COMPANIES LOCATED THERE…..JUST NOT FOR THE REST OF US….WE’LL BE LUCKY IF OUR TAXES DON’T GO UP…BUT STAY TUNED FOR MORE ACTIVITY WITH NO RESULTS ON THE PROMISE THAT KEEPS ON SLIPPING.
AT LEAST SOMEONE IS (ALWAYS) GETTING TREATED WELL BY STOREY COUNTY …. FOR THE SECOND TIME IN A MONTH ANOTHER FREE LAND GIVEBACK TO TRIC IS JUST WONDERFUL FOR TRIC ….NOT SO WONDERFUL IS THE POTENTIAL EMINENT DOMAIN LAND THEFT FROM REGULAR CITIZENS BEING CONSIDERED FOR THE FREIGHT DEPOT IN VC.
This is going to be a long one…perhaps a glass of your favorite beverage would be in order?
First of all congratulations to Summer Pellett, Highlands resident, in being appointed to the vacant Planning Commission seat. She is a fantastic addition to the Commission.
The key points of the staff and Board updates have been covered in Pat Whitten’s summary so I won’t go thru that here.
Pat Whitten’s update included the fact that the county is still actively pursuing the purchase of the Freight Depot across from the Silverland hotel in VC. He noted that over the years there have been 5 appraisals done with the intention to purchase it from the two partners. He said that one of the two partners is open to the purchase but the other is not. As a result the county is considering eminent domain as the method to acquire this property in order to preserve it and other architectural treasures as well as to remove the risk of fire and other safety issues……. He said that the last valuation was about $710k.
During Public Comment Sam Toll, Editor of the Storey Teller, asked Pat Whitten what the plan was for the Freight Depot? He wanted to know how taking private property is in the best interest of everyone. He noted that the Gold Hill Depot is sitting and languishing after the county purchased it in order to make it an event venue and that before the county imposes a state action to take someone’s property there needs to be a viable plan. Calling the property a fire hazard isn’t a good enough reason to do it…..that it is totally inappropriate.
Pat replied that he limited his comments in the meeting because the topic wasn’t agenized and that yes the plan for the depot will be part of future discussions.
SIDENOTE: This is not as simple as it seems. There have been numerous attempts to buy the property, there were promises made on the part of the County which according to one of the owners were never met. Regardless of who said what to whom…..eminent domain is a harsh and heavy handed way to acquire a property. Shame on the county.
But I digress……….
Under item #20 there was a lengthy presentation by Asia Union Electronics Chemicals, a TRI company seeking a Special Use Permit (SUP) to retrofit an existing building to produce, distribute and use hazardous and non-hazardous chemical products used in the microelectronics industry. This had been on the agenda and pushed out a couple of times. The presentation was very thorough and focused on all of the mitigation efforts in place to avoid or deal with an event. This includes a third party “responder” in addition to in-house response and Storey County Fire in the event of a spill. AUEC also reviewed the safety records of various industries compared to their own statistics. All in all very impressive.
Sam Toll, Editor of the Storey Teller, got up to commend the presentation and expressed some concerns that were voiced to him from county employees in Community Development and the Fire Department who, on condition of anonymity , expressed grave concerns about accepting this type of business into TRIC. The concerns were specifically around the safety and environmental issues that this type of business poses. He asked who the third party responder was. The AUEC representative stated that the company is the same company that NDOT and Union Pacific uses and they are experts in this area. Sam then asked if there was a financial impact to Storey County for having to get extra training or equipment in order to deal with any issues or events. Fire Chief, Jeff Nevin said that he didn’t believe that there would be an impact, that no new equipment has been required. Pat Whitten commented that the company would have to pay for it as part of the agreement anyway.
Item #8 was the appointment of Jack McGuffey to the Board of the newly restructured V&T Rail Commission. This was expected since he currently sits on the existing Rail Commission. What was odd was that since Lance Gilman was not in attendance at this meeting so Jack and Marshall voted on the motion with Jack effectively voting himself onto the Rail Commission. I don’t know how this isn’t a conflict of interest. But hey….it’s Storey County no one blinked.
Item #9 was about setting a date to talk about Property Tax Relief. In a nutshell the answer is NO.
Pat Whitten basically said that upon looking into it that it really isn’t viable for a number of reasons. The first is that with the current tax caps and abatements at TRI that 87% of the net effect of any property tax relief would benefit the “big guys” not the average taxpayer. There is also a concern about reducing the tax rate , basically a 20 year commitment , gives the county no flexibility to mitigate any negative revenue impacts. The general fund has about $2 Million in reserves for unforeseen events so a future revenue hit on top of an existing tax rollback wouldn’t give the county much room to mitigate revenue shortfalls without affecting services.
Pat also went on to say that we currently have two fire stations that need to be built in the next couple of months and that it may mean an increase in taxes in the Fire District…ie…on our tax bills.
Pat said that they want to keep discussions alive and hold the workshop on October 17th to see if there is anything meaningful that can be done.
SIDENOTE: So you see….the richest county in the known and unknown universe doesn’t have the money to build the fire stations without raising taxes. With all of the abatements at TRIC now and in the future and with the increased requirement for services at TRIC placed on the county we’ll be lucky not to see a TAX INCREASE on our property bills. OH!!!!!!! and let’s not forget the huge debt that the corporate welfare pipeline is going to place on the backs of Storey County residents. If the economic district that they plan on using the taxes from to pay the bond doesn’t materialize then that debt will roll over to the rest of Storey County to pay. This is what Commissioner, TRI Principal and brothel owner Lance Gilman calls “economic prosperity”…..for TRIC…..not for us.
But I digress………
Next up was item #10 which is giving County Manager Pat Whitten even more work and power by appointing him as the administrator of the voucher reimbursement to TRI as part of the public private partnership. Community Development Director Dean Haymore was doing this but apparently the contract Community Development Director Gary Hames can’t do it so Pat will do it. The rationale is that since the reimbursements cut across several departments that having someone who has visibility to all of the departments can do it more effectively.
I got up to ask what the checks and balances on Pat would be as well as the required transparency and got a response but I don’t think answered the checks and balances question.
Sam Toll got up to ask why the office of the Comptroller wasn’t the administrator since these are all financial transactions. He also noted that several of his public records requests have gone unanswered and that transparency seems to be an issue and that perhaps broadcasting the timing of the reimbursements would help with transparency.
Kris Thompson, TRI employee, got up to say that this was just a cleanup issue. That it’s a good time to transition the function out of Community Development and that if anyone thought that Pat Whitten wasn’t capable of being a check and balance then they have never seen him negotiate hard with TRI!!!
SIDENOTE- Well……I’ve been a senior manager at a large corporation, way larger than Storey County, and I was responsible for things that were outside my direct line of control. I had to work with other departments to get things done and I did it thru coordination and cooperation. If we had used the Storey County rationale then all the work could only be done by the President. In the real world you use delegation with authority and a system of checks and balances to get things done. If this is an interim move because there isn’t an active Public Works Director and the Community Development director isn’t capable then OK. But it sounds like it’s going to be a permanent arrangement. I had heard from several people that Dean Haymore was thought to have too much power and did things on his own… well….now Pat has more power and control.
But I digress……..
Next was item #13…………..I should just cut and paste last meetings summary….”unnecessary burden to the county…..best interest of the county……reconvey county property to TRI…free land…free land….free land…TRI needs it to make a sale/build a pad……blah……blah…blah”
Sam Toll got up to ask what the value of this piece of property was and was basically told that due to its location and the topography that it was basically worthless. He wanted to know why the county couldn’t at least get some value out of it even if it was only $5. He said that if he were in charge of the TRI voucher system, which he offered to do for free, that he would assign a value to it and deduct it from the debt the county owes to TRI.
Sam stressed that if in fact TRIC derives a profit or sales benefit from the reconveyance that the County is doing a disservice to it’s residents by not capturing the difference in value between it’s current “worthless” status and the added benefit to the sale of the parcel that TRIC needs it for.
Marshall McBride said that the value of the undeveloped property was small if anything and that the value of that same property as part of a developed parcel was significantly more therefore it is of benefit to Storey County to give it back to TRI.
Kris Thompson, TRI employee, got up to say that this was NOT a transfer of money from government to the developer….that it was part of economic development and part of a partnership!!!!! That this piece of property was needed by the buyer in order to close the deal!!! That this is good business and that it is short sighted by some to see it otherwise.
SIDENOTE- By “some” I assume he means anyone who questions anything TRIC does or questions how any welfare that the County bestows on TRIC is good for its citizens.
Digressing badly at this point…………….