THE QUARTERLY BUDGET REVIEW SHOWS THAT WE ARE FOR THE MOST PART ON TRACK….AND YIPPIE! WE HAVE FOUND A POT OF MONEY TO SUPPLEMENT REVENUES IN COMPLETING RAIL PROJECTS IN THE COUNTY
WHILE OTHER LESSER PEOPLE ARE RED TAGGED FOR VIOLATING COUNTY ORDINANCES GARY HAMES, AUSTIN OSBORN AND ANN LANGER CONTINUE TO IGNORE REQUESTS FOR PUBLIC INFORMATION ON THE MUSTANG RANCH’S ZONING AND THE LEGALITY OF ITS USE AS A RESIDENCE BY NUMEROUS PEOPLE…….SOME PEOPLE DON’T HAVE TO ABIDE BY THE LAW
STILL NO CONSEQUENCES FOR THE COUNTY MANAGER’S MISAPPROPRIATION OF $215K.
By Nicole Barde
Whitten’s summary does a good job of summarizing the Staff updates but I want to restate the following meeting alerts because they are important to note for the Mark Twain and Highlands communities:
A Town Hall meeting is scheduled at the Mark Twain Community Center April 26 at 5:30 p.m. This meeting will give residents the opportunity to talk with J. D. Fuller & Associates, Carson Water Sub conservancy representatives, and Storey County Planning regarding the Mark Twain flood project. Residents will be able to review maps. Importantly, residents are requested to bring photos, or any other archive, showing flooding, washouts, culverts that have filled up, etc. These items will be used in building a model.
On May 10 at 6 p.m., a Town Hall meeting will take place in the Highlands to discuss 2nd quarter findings and conditions of the USGS Groundwater Study.
Additional updates were:
Comptroller Hugh Gallagher announced that the dates for the 2018-2019 Budget review sessions will be at the May 1, May 15 and May 21st County Commission Meetings.
Pat Whitten’s update noted that he will be renegotiating the Government Services agreement with Tesla soon. Recall that Tesla has its taxes abated meaning that they pay nothing for the services that the county provides. Since it costs the county to provide those services Whitten negotiated a Service Agreement whereby Tesla pays for those services. While we do get revenues from Tesla and the other abated biggies at TRIC for plan reviews and various licensing etc., without this agreement the county would be in a severe deficit spending scenario.
SIDENOTE: All of those reports that you see touting that Storey County’s taxable sales are in the $1.6 BILLION dollar range are true………………………but with all of the abatement’s only $1 MILLION dollars makes it into the county’s coffers. This $1.6 billion dollar number is why our surrounding sister counties have painted a bulls-eye on us…..they want some of that non-existent revenue to offset their very real infrastructure costs of housing and schooling all the TRIC workers.
They don’t want to accept that we’re actually losing money on TRIC both in actual dollars and in opportunity costs.
But I digress.
Pat also updated the status of the Justice Court. Recall that the Storey County Courthouse is a DISTRICT COURT. Judge Herrington’s JUSTICE COURT has been utilizing it for forever but the District Court wants the Justice Court out of there. The dilemma has been where to locate it….lots of thinking has produced the most likely solution of building a facility at the Detention Center location. This will get budgeted in next year’s budget.
Pat also spoke about new Federal legislation creating “Opportunity Zones” and asked that Commissioner, TRI Principal, brothel owner, and Blockchains government affairs worker Lance Gilman explain it.
During Board updates Lance explained that the “Opportunity Zones” are a way of getting capital into the market and that there will be incentives for investors to invest. The Market being low income or under served markets/communities, incentives being capital gains treatment on profits. He noted that he had had an early morning call with the White House as part of his being on the Economic Development task force.
You can find a lot more about this concept HERE.
SIDENOTE: I PRAY that this is passed and that it benefits the SMALL businesses in Storey County…especially the merchants in Virginia City. All of the tax breaks and “special treatment” goes to large companies touting the creation of jobs but in reality it’s small businesses in this country that create the majority of jobs. I support the attraction of big business in Storey with a bit of tax sweetener but I want to see more done for our small and local businesses.
But I digress.
Commissioner Jack McGuffey announced that it was tax day and Commission Chair and Commissioner Marshall McBride had no update.
Item # 8 was the discussion and approval of the inter-local agreement between the County and the V&T Railway Commission for Storey County to provide all financial, auditing and administrative services. Net-Net we control the books. The contract is pretty straightforward… we set up and manage the special funds…we do the work …..they pay us for it.
Additionally, Pat Whitten said that we got a good deal in the negotiations since we are only obligated to give the Rail Commission a fixed amount of $125k annually out of the ¼ cent sales tax proceeds instead of the entire amount.
During Public Comment I commented that I have seen a change for the positive in the Rail Commission meetings in how they are trying to manage the financials. I also said that I am happy to see that the new interlocal agreement stipulates that the ¼ cent sales tax monies raised in Storey County will be spent IN Storey County.
I asked why, if it was just a services agreement, it is mentioning that the prior interlocal dated 2010 is being replaced with this agreement when items in the original agreement are not in this agreement. Specifically the Rail Commission committed to give Storey County $250k towards the purchase of the VC rail depot and ostensibly had that money on hand to do so when that time arrived. I asked where was that money?
Hugh said “it’s there, it’s in the special fund”. I strongly suggested that they document that the $250k is part of the special fund for the Rail Commission and that it has a restricted purpose. Meaning that it cannot be spent on anything else.
I then asked what were the rest of the ¼ cent sales tax monies being used for. Pat Whitten replied that it would go to rail related projects like the Gold Hill Depot and others that the county has in mind. While I like this approach I have to wonder if it meets the intent of what the voters approved in 2010.
If there is a specific source of funds for the rail related capital and infrastructure projects then the county’s General Fund monies can be freed up to pay for other capital/infrastructure projects…looks like Pat just found a pot of money! I just hope it doesn’t get siphoned off to pay for administrative costs or other parking lot expenses.
You can read about some of the history of the first interlocal and the 2010 ballot question continuing the 1/4 cent sales tax to fund the Commission HERE.
Item #11 was the quarterly review of the third quarter Budget vs actual which you can find HERE. All in all the county is on track to come in on budget with a few exceptions.
Revenues are over what was budgeted (good news) which is a result of all of the activity at TRIC. Most of the departments are at or about the 75% mark in expenses spent. Items like refunds from the Treasurer’s office, transfer of headcount from Fire to Community Development , sewer project upgrades, Pipers purchase and professional services for the Assessors new SW systems were the culprits for the over budget numbers.
Item # 12 was a re-review of Administrative policy 008 regarding the process for getting items on the Commission Agenda. In the last iteration the County Manager was the gatekeeper and only decision maker for what goes on the agendas. Commissioner Gilman, who is also a TRIC principal, brothel owner and now Blockchains government affairs worker, had taken issue with the fact that as written the policy would give the county manager power to deny an agenda item that a commissioner wanted on the agenda. He felt that this was not appropriate. Today was to review the rewrites. There was still language in there that had the County Manager as the final decision maker and Lance wanted it taken out. There was a great deal of back and forth between the DA, Pat Whitten and Lance until there was agreement that it would clarify that the Commissioners can put whatever they want on the agenda…..without the County Managers approval.
The remaining agenda items were the approval of liquor, gaming and business licenses for a couple of businesses.
During Public Comment at the end of the meeting I got up to make a statement regarding the campaign sign ordinance. At the last meeting DA Langer stated that the county ordinance is too restrictive and may infringe on “free speech”. Specifically that the practice in Storey County and the national standard for “yard signs” was 18 X 24. The County ordinance specifies 2 square feet for most areas. She indicated that the ordinance needed to be revised but that it would allow the larger size for the common “yard signs”. There had been questions raised to some candidates about both the size and the placement of their signs and I requested that the ordinance be clarified as to what size is approved for what areas before the shooting starts.
A discussion followed which resolved nothing and the issue was kicked over to Austin Osborn in Planning.
Next Sam Toll, Editor of TheStoreyteller.online got up to again request that Public Comment be placed at the front of the meeting so that the public will actually be served first.
He then made a statement about his repeated and futile efforts to get public information from various departments and a resolution about the zoning of the Mustang Ranch. He wanted to know how people can live there when it’s not zoned for it and if not zoned for it why no citations are issued. Once again he quoted George Orwell from Animal Farm “all animals are created equal, some more equal than others”…..
And that’s about it for this meeting!