This was a short but information packed meeting. You can see the agenda HERE, County Manager Pat Whitten’s Summary HERE and the recording of the meeting HERE.

Nicole Barde

Staff updates and Board updates were few, and Pat Whitten’s summary has all of the voting items.

Congressman Mark Amodei was the surprise guest and this months meeting and he had some very good news. The postal service has assigned a new zip code for TRI and it is 89437. What was interesting is that the County has for many years been lobbying and doing headstands trying to get this zip-code. Many, many people have gone back to DC to try and get it done. The zip-code item has been attached to several major pieces of legislation over the last several years which failed for one reason or another. Congressman Amodei said that the zip-code happened this time as a result of a recent conversation he had with sub-committee chair Senator Mark Meadows (R-NC). The senator said, “ Oh, you want a zip-code, here….let me make a call, it’s just an administrative issue”.

Zip-Zap we had our zip-code!

SIDENOTE- First of all … Thank You, Senator Meadows, and to North Carolina who elected him ! Go Tar Heels!

Then… Uh……… much money did we spend over the years to get this done? Has it been this easy to do all along?

The Congressman also talked about the planning of Interstate-11 the planned North-South Interstate from Arizona to Seattle. This is probably 10 years out. It will intersect with I-80 at some point in northern Nevada and may affect Storey County. It will likely have implications for I-80 and USA Parkway. He noted that this process will allow Storey County to take a proactive approach to planning its own transportation infrastructure.

Amodei also reported that he was going to be on a phone conference right after the Commission meeting with the BLM over the shooting of some of our state horses in North East Nevada.

Next up was Cheri Nevin who reported on the completion of the Virginia City Sewer Improvement Project. ON BUDGET and EARLY! She acknowledged all of the key players with awards:

  • Ames Construction
  • Farr West Engineering
  • USDA Rural Development
  • Broadbent Archaeologists
  • Jason W Public Works Director
  • Mike Nevin Project Manager
  • Pat Whitten County manager

Congrats to all the key players and to the residents of Virginia City for getting your streets back!

Pat Whitten gave an update on his proposal for the process to use in looking for his replacement. He said that it was no secret that he wanted to retire soon and that July 2019 is probably the best time. He then proposed a process whereby a long time colleague, external Consultant and former Carson City Manager would manage the process of looking for and hiring his replacement.

He said that it was brought up at one time to do a national search but said that it just doesn’t work.

He felt that we didn’t want anyone from across the United States who couldn’t even pronounce Nevada, that we didn’t want anyone from a big metropolitan area like Las Vegas that will bog us down with lots of processes. He wants to select the best candidate available internally or externally.

He proposes that there be two interview boards. One made up of County employees/officials and one made up of citizens. Then the Commissioners would interview the top 2-3 candidates out of that interview process. He suggests that the Commissioners each nominate two people for the citizen interview board. He wants to make sure that there is a citizen representing the merchants, and one representing TRI.

Pat said that in December the consultant will begin to interview the Commissioners and others to get the requirements for the job which she will be advertising for. There will be a brochure produced about Storey County as a recruitment tool and she will advertise broadly including at the County Manager Association and NACO.

SIDENOTE- If we eliminate people from across the United States and eliminate large metropolitan areas….what’s left?

I was the one several years ago who voiced the opinion and requested that the county go outside the county for the next County Manager. The County has a practice of hiring internals and friends for the top spots in our government and then rotate them from top job to top job. There is likely someone already waiting in the wings for this job.

I said at the time that given the complexity of the county now and in the future, and with the continued abatement deals that will get handed to us by the state that we needed someone who has been to where we are going and knows the pitfalls, the landmines and more importantly knows what is possible. We need someone who will bring something NEW to the party.

I hope that I am wrong, I really do, but I have yet to see any real negotiating by the County/County Manager with the abated companies for “community service fees” . Not the service agreement we have with Tesla….but fees on top of that with the key abated companies to help us pay for the things we aren’t getting because of the abatements.

As I stated in a prior blog article Oregon seems to do a good job of ensuring that the counties get something for giving up its revenues to incentivized companies. The community service fees , which are on top of service agreements, are tied to the abatements and incentives and then the counties negotiate for the specifics. These monies are used to expand public facilities, build new or pay off capital projects, and to contribute to civic organizations and non-profits in the County.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone as County Manager who has been doing these types of negotiations , knows what is possible and can work with the TRI companies to get them to help us?

I think that Pat and our staff have done as good a job as can be done while learning on the job. But quite frankly I don’t think we can afford to have the next County Manager learn on our nickel. We need to learn FROM THEM how it is done. The Department heads and Office holders need someone who can tell them what to expect next and how to prepare for it. They don’t know what they don’t know…..they need a leader who does.

But I digress…….

During Staff updates Pat announced that the TRI Effluent Pipeline deal has resurfaced in another form. At the last Commission meeting, Pat announced that one of the parties had withdrawn. He didn’t say who. All of the agenda items related to establishing the Special Assessment District, the Bond, and the Tax Increment Area got postponed “indefinitely” that day.

At this weeks meeting, Pat said that the deal had hit a snag with a couple of companies around the terms of the Special Assessment District. Their property in the SAD would have liens on them as security against the Bond that the County would be selling on their behalf. It is now proposed that the companies would pay for the pipeline directly which would eliminate the need for the county to float the Bond and eliminate the need for the SAD.

The companies would still want to get reimbursed for their direct pipeline payments thru the Tax Increment Area. This “direct pay” scheme would bring the cost of the pipeline down from $60+ million with interest to $35 million.

Pat also said that two of the companies would not be asking for any reimbursement and that would bring the “reimbursement” total to about $28 million which would be split 50/50 with the state. That means that the County portion of the “reimbursement” would be about $14 million.

There might be a special meeting on October 29th to get all of this back on track.

SIDENOTE- Well……..maybe they were listening to me when I read my statement into the record two months ago suggesting that it would be cheaper for them to pay $35 million rather than the $61 million thru the bond…..maybe not.

Needless to say not having to do the Bond thing greatly simplifies things but……….I am still against the use of public money to pay for this. Whether it is $61 million dollars or $14 million dollars or $12.32….it is OUR tax money that will be diverted from the general fund to pay for an asset which we will then turn over to TRI for free.

It is a precedent for other companies to ask for more of our money and it is yet another developer expense that we are paying for. Where does it end? What happens when Blockchains, which owns Painted Rock, comes to the county with its hand out for us to pay for or go into debt to pay for that developer infrastructure?

Hats off to whichever companies are not asking for the reimbursement.

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