TESLA IS STILL A NO SHOW FOR THE SERVICES AGREEMENT AND THE BUDGET IS STILL $1.7 MILLION OVER.
NO PROPERTY TAX RELIEF UNTIL 2024 OR UNTIL WHEN WE’RE ALL DEAD
THERE IS NO “OPIOID CRISIS” IN STOREY COUNTY……THE REPORT IS WRONG!
THIS ONE IS FOR YOU MARSHALL:
“A MAN WHO HAS COMMITTED A MISTAKE AND DOESN’T CORRECT IT IS COMMITTING ANOTHER MISTAKE”
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.
This was a pretty straight forward meeting but it was a very long meeting. It was kicked off by Project Manager Mike Nevin, and the entire Sewer/Water work project team giving a great presentation of the work done to date. It’s not in the packet but some interesting stats I jotted down were:
-30,720 linear feet have been laid down (6 MILES)
-267 service connections were made
-144 manholes were created
Besides the typical glitches that happen with a project of this size this team has had to deal with hitting some pretty ancient and crumbling pipes and some artifacts which when discovered require careful documentation. One such artifact was a cistern probably from the 1870’s which they had to catalog and photograph. Additionally, they have also been doing some mitigation and improvement work such as curbs and drainage (funded by county funds) in places where they know water runoff does significant damage if not abated. While they were at it they also did a couple of needed projects at the schools.
Most of the work being replaced is from the early 1970’s but a good portion is also over a hundred years old. This is the largest major project in V.C.’s history and the speed at which it’s getting done, despite the glitches, is remarkable. KUDOS to Mike and the Team.
During Staff updates Eric Schoen, Community Chest Executive Director, reminded everyone that the open house is scheduled for Friday June 1st from 5-7. He also made a point to alert the commission about a recent report in which Storey County was cited, along with two other counties, as being in an “opioid crisis”. Since the Community Chest deals with our residents thru a number of superb programs and is in a position to know if we have an opioid crisis and since he wasn’t seeing signs of this “crisis” he decided to check into the report.
What he discovered was that the way in which that particular report was compiled, specifically in how the numbers were collected then averaged out and applied wasn’t an accurate portrayal of Storey County. That in looking further he determined that the numbers of the larger counties surrounding us skewed our VERY SMALL numbers to the high side. He said that Lyon, Washoe and Carson are high risk….but not Storey.
SIDENOTE-Having once had the Statistics department reporting to me in a prior life I learned a great deal about “fun with numbers”. Mark Twain was right….”There’s lies, damn lies and statistics”.
But I digress….
Deny Dotson, VCTC Executive Director, gave an update on a few things not the least of which is the re-branding of Pipers Opera House. There is a new website and it really is quite nice. He noted that we have 5 consecutive week-ends of events coming up and with the pipeline construction and street closures it will get very congested. He asks for the resident’s patience.
SIDENOTE -I have been pushing for the Pipers branding to equally present the fact that Pipers is a “Performing Arts Venue” not just a wedding venue and they have done that beautifully. I see more Facebook presence and a specific effort to publicize the performing arts and historical aspects. BRAVO!
Also, later in the meeting the Commission approved the addition of Arika Perry, Executive Director of St. Mary’s Art Center, to the board of the VCTC. CONGRATULATIONS Arika!
Joe Curtis, Emergency Management, noted that he had attended a cyber security conference that was very enlightening. Cyber security is the number one issue for Homeland Security ahead of “physical” terrorism. Joe will be working to pull a plan together for Storey County.
Pat Whitten, County Manager, discussed the reasons for the cancelling of the Ferrari Hill Climb. Bottom line it was a safety issue for all concerned. He also noted that the new Justice building will be located near the jail and that it will initially be a 3500 sqf finished building with a 6000 sqf shell for future expansion. The expansion element is a great idea since the county is already out of room and it will likely get filled sooner rather than later.
SIDENOTE-Pat also mentioned Collins Construction. I didn’t get the whole comment but I think that he said that they were going to do the construction. IF so….I didn’t see any bids go out. IF this is a no-bid contract then why?
Next up were Board comments starting with Commissioner, brothel owner, TRI principal and Blockchains government affairs worker Lance Gilman. Lance said that he had been invited to go back to Washington D.C. to meet with our leaders and discuss a number of issues such as the zip code issue and the ozone issue. He is unable to attend and so Government Affairs representative Bum Hess will be going in his stead.
Commissioner Jack McGuffey congratulated the V&T Rail Way on a successful Mother’s Day train and announced that he will be attending the Western Regional NACO conference in Idaho. Two of the issues being discussed will be the Lands Bill and the sage grouse protection act.
Commissioner and Commission Chair Marshall McBride said that he and Pat Whitten had done a one day lobbying trip to Washington DC last week to discuss the postal reform bill (zip code) the Lands bill and the Ozone issue.
Marshall said that the idea that you can do lobbying by phone isn’t viable. You have to go and do face to face meetings to get anything done. They were talking to our representatives to determine which bills they could attach the zip code change as a rider so that it will finally pass. Prior attempts to do that have failed. They visited the offices of Sen. Heller, Sen Cortez-Masto, Rep Amodei and others.
SIDENOTE- OK, I GET that no one wants to get on planes these days, and that you have to do face to face. I also GET that your face needs to be seen and known in the political world….but to go to DC to meet with Nevada representatives who you can see in Nevada is odd to me. I also wonder just how many times you have to meet with the Nevada representatives until they understand that we need to have the zip code fixed. I mean……it’s not rocket science. Dean Heller tweeted about the recent status of the zip code issue that failed to get passed thru another bill…..and I didn’t have to go to DC to find that out.
Plus we pay an external lobbying company to do this for us. They are on retainer. What are we paying for??? Just sayin’.
But I digress….
The rest of the voting items are covered in Pat Whitens summary.
Next up was a review of the second 2019 tentative budget.
Net-Net revenues over time still show flat to down, expenses over time still show up to up and expenses are still $1.7 million dollars over revenues in this budget cycle.
The budget packet was NOT included in the agenda packet but I have it for you here:
-2019 tentative budget
-2019 special revenue funds
-2019 Fire District 250
Pat Whitten commented that there is still no Services Agreement with Tesla. That approximately $1.2 million of the $1.7 million budget expense overage is pure Tesla related activities. That if the agreement isn’t signed soon that the special abatements on certain fees as well as the enhanced support given to Tesla thru the Services Agreement will end. He said that he is hopeful that they will sign soon. He also said that the county will continue to bill Tesla for services in the absence of the agreement.
Comptroller Hugh Gallagher noted that revenues may go up a bit higher than the budget projects since the permitting fees, as well as Ad Valorum for personal property valuations at TRIC may go up. He said that he hadn’t put that in the budget since he likes to be conservative in his revenue estimates.
Hugh said that the departments are prepared to cut drastically in the event that the Tesla Services Agreement isn’t renewed but that there will still be some expenses that need to be incurred and so the budget expenses will likely still be over revenues but not as much as the current $1.7 million. As long as we have monies in the general fund to cover the overages the Department of Taxation is OK with an unbalanced budget.
Marshall McBride stated that there is some concern but that he’s confident that “we’ll be OK….Hugh knows how to sharpen his pencil”
Hugh also noted that salaries and benefits are up over time and that those two items represent the majority of the increases in the department budgets (Tesla not withstanding)
During the Fire Department Budget presentation Sam Toll, editor of The Storey Teller, got up to ask where the money for the two fire stations needed out at TRIC is going to come from.
Pat Whitten answered him by saying that the county wants to provide the highest ISO ( for lower rates) rating that it possibly can. That the plan would be to build two and staff one to do that. But that if the companies out there want higher ratings he hoped that they, thru the developers, would help to fund the stations. He also noted that the fire station that is currently out there can handle the incidents as it is.
Sam also asked the question.. “since revenues still look to be flat to down and expenses keep climbing, do we have the money to do a property tax action?”
Hugh’s answer was basically that the chances were minimal at this time. He said that he wanted to see what 2024 looks like when some of the abatements disappear. Additionally, that no one can foresee what the economy will do and he’s afraid of a 2007-2008 scenario where things went sideways. He said that he didn’t want to commit to something until he’s sure we can afford it.
SIDENOTE- God love you Hugh, and thank you!
THAT is what the residents of this county should have been told from the beginning. Instead Lance Gilman has been telling us that TRIC will rain money down on all of us and that we will have a property tax rollback, refund checks and other wonderful things. PURE HYPE. Just tell us the reality….not the hype.
I think that a “reality check” from Lance Gilman is in order.
But I digress some more…..
By this time the meeting had gone way past noon so Marshall asked if there was any public comment then immediately graveled the meeting to a close without looking up from his notes.
Both Sam Toll and I were up and out of our seats on the way to the podium when he did this. Needless to say Marshall had to reopen the meeting to allow for our public comments.
Sam got up first and read his letter to the editor of the Comstock Chronicle HERE asking Marshall to be specific about what he thinks Sam lied about in his article about the Tentative budget or the $1.6 billion dollar taxable sales.
I got up and also read my letter to the Editor HERE asking for Marshall to tell me where I lied.
There was no response from Marshall or anyone else and the meeting ended.
SIDENOTE- I find Marshall’s lack of response very, very sad. I have liked and respected Marshall.
He can be man enough to call us liars from the safety of the front page of the newspaper and not provide any details but he can’t point out the lies so that I can correct them or have the courtesy to admit he was wrong when confronted.
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