THE COMMISSIONERS VOTED TO LEAVE THE TAX RATE FLAT FOR NEXT YEAR! BUT…….KEEP AN EYE ON WHAT THE STATE DOES.
THE V & T RAIL COMMISSION IS DOING A GREAT JOB IN RUNNING THEIR EVENTS AND IN PROVIDING TRANSPARENCY ON THEIR FINANCIALS….SO GLAD TO SEE THIS..KUDOS!
RUMOURS OF PAT WHITTEN’S RETIREMENT RESURFACE AND ONCE AGAIN I CALL FOR THE COMMISSION TO LOOK FOR AN EXPERIENCED COUNTY MANAGER FROM OUTSIDE THE SWAMP……WE NEED SOMEONE WHO’S BEEN TO WHERE WE’RE GOING…….
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 short meeting and fairly straightforward. Commissioner Jack McGuffey was absent and that required that the TRIC agenda item be pushed out to August since Commissioner, Brothel Owner, TRIC principal and Blockchains Government Affairs worker Lance Gilman couldn’t vote on his own item.
During Staff updates, V & T Railroad Executive Director Elaine Spencer reported that they are having sold out week-ends! That the Line is making money or breaking even over 12 weekends so far. You can read the detail of her report in Pat Whitten’s summary.
SIDE NOTE- I am still attending the V&T meetings and I have to say that the improvement in the business is impressive. The financials are tight, the reports on each of the areas are clear, the meeting itself is well run……Kudos to all for all of the hard work and HEART that has gone into turning it around.
Next up was a report from Community Development. The gentleman reporting gave some numbers to show how much work they are doing …which I hope I got right:
- Business licenses in the 2016-2017 year = 1181 …in the 2017-2018 year = 1991
- Permits in the 2016-2017 year = 373….in the 2017-2018 year = 468
- Plans reviewed in the 2016-2017 year = 241… in the 2017-2018 year = 368
They also worked on 12 houses and are getting lots of training and certifications.
SIDENOTE- Community Development is the recipient of a large chunk of the money that Tesla pays thru the Services Agreement because of the work that they do to keep things moving quickly for them. They have had to add people to do this work and if Tesla doesn’t pay Comptroller Hugh Gallagher has said: “ some hard decisions have to be made”. Those decisions are potentially lay offs. Let’s hope that Tesla pay’s its bills.
Mike Nevin, Project Manager for the Sewer Project, gave an update on the progress of the Project. He said that despite the huge disruption that this has been on the lives of the Towns residents that he gets comments about how helpful AMES Construction has been. They have gone out of their way to be accommodating to the residents including carrying packages and groceries for folks when their road was closed at both ends for work.
Item # 12 on the Agenda was a resolution to approve the tax rate for 2018-2018. The County tax rate will be left the same at 3.46%. Commission Chair Marshall McBride took the opportunity to remind us that the County has kept the rate flat for many years. That the county has only increased the rate twice in the recent past …. in 2004-2005 and 2007-2008. He also said that it is lower than it was in 2004-2005.
SIDENOTE- This is good news. Just plain ole good news. I hope that the Storey County Commission continues to hold our taxes flat. They are all Republicans and I expect them to hold tight to the plank that says “ NO NEW TAXES”.
Since we were promised a property tax reduction of some sort due to the abundance of riches coming from TRIC and that’s not going to happen any time soon….at least they can hold steady on what we are currently taxed.
BUT….the state needs revenues.
While it is not new news that the state wants to lift the property tax cap to get those revenues……..it is new news that any tax surpluses that the state might have had this year have been sucked up by the tax credits that they have given out to big businesses. Tesla is selling its tax credits to the Casinos!!!
From the LA Times article:
Budget officials had expected a $61.1 million surplus for the fiscal year. But according to Nevada’s Legislative Counsel Bureau, which advises lawmakers on budget matters, Tesla sold credits faster than the state expected, reducing the surplus to $18.4 million.
It seems to me that the trickle-down economics theory has reversed course into trickle up economics since the businesses are benefitting from not paying a full share of taxes…..so WE as residents have to pay for them!
Keep looking for the activity around lifting the property tax cap…it’s rolling. The other thing that is rolling is the continuing effort by surrounding counties, Washoe in particular, to levy an impact fee on Storey County. They want part of the abundance of riches pouring out of TRIC to fund their infrastructure costs for building more housing and schools for the TRIC workers.
Apparently, they haven’t looked at our revenue trend over time ….revenues are trending down not up.
But I digress…….
Next on the Agenda was the approval of changes to the way the County classifies APPOINTED Storey County Officials by Grade/Step levels. It was presented by Austin Osborn, Planning, HR and Other Director as a routine re-levelling of positions.
During public comment, I asked if there were any new positions being created as a result of this activity. Austin noted that yes, there was one new position, that of Assistant County Manager. I then asked if there was any impact to the county budget as a result of this activity and he said NO. Lance Gilman also asked if there was any impact to the budget and Austin said that all that was being approved today were the classifications themselves and that the budget was not impacted. This resolution passed
SIDENOTE. The new position of Assistant County Manager is interesting. There have been rumours for a couple of years that Pat Whitten was retiring. That rumour is out again now…only this time Pat is heard saying things like “I’m outta here” and “ well…I won’t be around to see it”. So maybe it’s imminent.
It is interesting that this new position is being created since I have seen Austin referred to as Assistant County Manager in print articles from time to time so this may be the promotion to go along with the work.
But I digress in my digression.
I am on the record a few years back, when the rumour of Pat’s retirement last surfaced, of asking the Commission to look outside for his replacement. By outside I mean to find someone experienced in County management not on planet Comstock who has been to where we as a county are going. Someone who has been successful in dealing with the rapid growth and changes brought on when big money moves into a community. WE DO NOT HAVE THAT PERSON INTERNALLY or maybe even in Northern Nevada.
The County Manager job is a huge job and it is key to our being able to weather the changes, up and down, that are ahead of us. Pat Whitten has done a fine job of learning and growing with it as we’ve been hit with all of the complexities that TRIC has brought us. But he’s never been to where the county is going in all this and I don’t know of anyone here who has.
A couple of years back Douglas County and another adjacent county did an Executive Search for County Management and got great experienced candidates…..I think we need to do that.
Yes, it’s money to do it but I think it’s worth it. If the Commission is OK with handing out bonus money to APPOINTED County Officials then why not pay for something useful?
But …..the way things go around here they will likely go thru the motions and then hire/appoint an internal GOB to keep the bodies buried and the money flowing…..and if Pat is soon to retire they’ll want to do it before the new Commissioner gets seated in January….or not…who knows?
Meanwhile, if they do move Austin into the Assistant Manager role or even the County Manager Role it WILL add to the county budget since they will need to backfill his positions. Additionally, any re-levelling of existing APPOINTED County officials into the new Grade/Step levels will also add to the budget. Let’s see Hugh sharpen his pencil on that one!
But I digress..
The July 17th Commission Meeting is cancelled since the Board will be at a meeting.