LETS HOPE THAT THE COMMISSION ADHERES TO OUR “NO” VOTE FROM 2014 AND DOES NOT DO AN END RUN AND ADD OR RAISE THE DIESEL TAX IN STOREY COUNTY WITHOUT OUR YES VOTES THRU ANOTHER BALLOT QUESTION.
THE DECISION ON THE COUNTY MANAGER HIRE IS POSTPONED UNTIL APRIL 16TH
A RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION TAX INCREASE HAS BEEN REQUESTED BY THE SCHOOL DISTRICT….LOOKS LIKE THOSE PESKY ABATEMENTS HAVE CUT INTO THEIR FUNDING FOR CAPITAL PROJECTS
GOOD TO KNOW THAT ISSUES LIKE HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE ARE NOT BECAUSE WE HAVE PROBLEMS AND IT’S NOT BECAUSE OF LEADERSHIP ……IT’S BECAUSE OF THAT PESKY ME TOO MOVEMENT.
The majority the Staff summaries are well covered in Pat and Jay’s summaries There were a couple of exceptions that I’ll cover.
The first is that Comptroller Hugh Gallagher covered several legislative bills that were on the agenda for this year’s legislative session. There are several collective bargaining bills which are of interest to the county since about 85% of all of our expenses go towards employee salaries and benefits, the Open Meeting Law is being looked at to be more restrictive, there is a more liberal bill making it easier for citizens to launch actions against local government and a bill allowing counties to supersede the vote of the people and raise the diesel tax. Hugh said, “ it would just be for the truck stops out at TRIC”.
SIDENOTE– Recall that the Nevada Gross Receipts Tax was on the 2012 statewide ballot and WE SAID NO. It was defeated by a margin of 4:1 statewide. Recall that the governor did an end run around the voters and enacted it thru legislation in 2015 anyway. Reborn as the “ Commerce Tax”.
Recall that the Diesel Tax increase was on the county ballot in 2014 and WE SAID NO.
Pucker up pumpkins…….there’s a bill, SB 48, going thru that will enable County Commissions to enact raising the diesel tax …with no voter approval and …..against the 2014 NO VOTES of their residents. The case in Storey County for adding/increasing the diesel tax is the same today as it was in 2014 when we said NO. At that time they said that it would only affect the truck stops at TRIC. But…we buy diesel in V.C. so it will affect those of us who buy there.
I would hope that the Commission would restate the need for this in Storey County and let the voters decide and let us vote on it again. But for me right now…..if the residents of Storey County said NO then it’s NO. Below is a brief summary of the issue:
“Under existing law, the board of county commissioners of a county whose population is 100,000 or more (currently Clark and Washoe counties) is authorized, under certain circumstances, to impose county taxes on motor vehicle fuel and various special fuels used in motor vehicles,” the Legislative Counsel’s Digest included with the bill language reads.
However, the board of county commissioners of a county whose population is less than 100,000 (currently all counties other than Clark and Washoe) is authorized to impose county taxes on motor vehicle fuel and is not authorized to impose county taxes on special fuel.
While there are diesel taxes paid within rural counties, as the law is currently written, all of that money goes to the state with none being kept by the rural counties in which they were paid. With Senate Bill 48, rural counties could add a county-specific diesel tax, the funds from which would then stay with the related county.”
Oh and also note as well that there is another bill , SJR14 , that will lift the property tax cap… this affects everyone. At this point it will be on the 2020 ballot…if we’re lucky. I will not vote yes.
Like I said…..pucker up…the state needs money to offset the millions and millions of corporate welfare that they are giving away and they want us to pay for those companies’ tax abatements.
But I digress…..
After Hugh gave the legislative update Commission Chair Marshall McBride made a point to say that the reason that Hugh Gallagher, Comptroller, gave the update instead of our paid lobbyist is because the paid lobbyist was at the legislature where he belonged since it is in session.
SIDENOTE– I suppose that this is in response to the comment I made a couple of blogs ago about Bum Hess rarely, if ever , giving an update despite being paid every month and every year rain or shine to lobby for the county. While Marshall’s comment may ring true for this moment in time……it does not ring true for all of the other times when the legislature is not in session and Bum is not giving any updates. A double negative.
During Board updates Commissioner, brothel owner, TRI principal, Blockchains associate and aspiring hemp grower Lance Gilman gave a report of the NACO conference that he and Marshall attended in Washington DC. NACO is the National Association of Counties. He said that it was like a little nest of birds all wanting to be fed. Hands out for money everywhere. Key points were:
- They were able to get a lot of useful information about how other counties deal with their senior populations and the types of programs that are available
- He noted that all counties suffer from the effects of unfunded mandates. That 85% of our revenues in Storey County go to Unions ( fire, sheriffs, county employees) and that there is not a lot left for residents. The unfunded mandates will eat in the remaining 15% of available funds. He said that he is on weekly phone meetings with legislators and other groups to deflect these unfunded mandates.
- He said that Washington is trying to deregulate as much as possible to get things moving. They met with many of the Cabinet-level departments to talk about key issues and how Washington could help by essentially getting out of the way thru deregulation.
- They talked about the Opportunity Zone legislation recently passed. The details have yet to be worked out. He noted that all of Storey County is an Opportunity Zone including VC and that once the rules are finalized it will be a boon for all.
- A key nugget of information that they found out about was the existence of a CIPRO (?) fund. There is about $88 Million in it and about 50% is focused on programs for those 18 and younger. Storey County will be checking on this source of funding.
Next up was the Commissions interview of the three County Manager Candidates. Ron Knecht, Austin Osborn and Merena Works. You can see their respective resumes in the agenda packet.
All three candidates gave an opening and closing statement. All three candidates were asked the same 9 questions. The Commissioners had the opportunity to ask follow on questions after the initial question. The 9 questions asked of all were:
- What do you value about Storey County’s culture and Vision
- What is your experience with line-item budgeting
- List 2-3 accomplishments that you are particularly proud of
- Why do you want to be Storey County Manager
- Our County is ageing how would you handle senior services
- How much leeway do you give employees and how do you keep control
- What has been a career disappointment and what did you learn
- What has been your HR experience and how do you approach the workplace environment ( in light of #metoo)
- How do you deal with people who disagree with you
The interviews took 3 hours.
At the end of the process County Manager Pat Whitten noted that the Commission had the option of voting on this today, delaying the vote, restarting the search, or restarting the search with a large recruitment firm.
He also noted that there were issues with some initial candidates with the salary we are offering and the residency requirement. He noted that Douglas County is offering $200k for their County manager and that our offering is lower than that. He said that Tesla is having trouble hiring people so the market was tight.
At the end of it Commissioner McBride said all three candidates were exceptional and that he was ready to vote.
Commissioner Carmona said that he didn’t want to rush and would like more time to deliberate. Additionally, he would like to see all of the applications from the 18 or so that came in. Commissioner Gilman agreed that the decision shouldn’t be rushed and would appreciate the time to have 1-1 meetings with each of the candidates. He added that having ADA Loomis present would be prudent as well.
SIDENOTE– The interviews went well from a process standpoint. Each candidate brings a lot of different experience to the table and their answers reflected those differences. A couple of things stood out to me.
While there were few follow on questions for Ron Knecht and none that I recall for Merena Works there were numerous questions for Austin which enabled him to further expound on his intimate and detailed knowledge of the workings of Storey County.
Ron Knecht has such a broad and deep background that he sometimes lost me in his answers.
Marena Works seemed to have difficulty in giving a clear answer to the line item budget question. She did state that it may be called something else when she was involved in budgeting.
Lastly, something that quite frankly disturbed me was a portion of Austins answer to the HR question relating to the “#metoo” movement. This was a question , asked of all of the candidates, about how to handle workforce interactions in light of the emergence of more objections to harassment in the workplace AKA “#metoo”.. Please listen HERE from about 1:06.40 to 1:07.38.
When answering the question about how he will replace his own position of HR Director if he is hired as County manager he talks about what it would require for a new hire. He talks about his substantial experience in dealing with a heavy labor relations load at the county …….then is quick to add that “ it’s not because we have problems, it’s not leadership issues….it’s issues like the #metoo movement, elected official issues ( not this board )”……..
Just to be clear………..” #me too” is NOT a movement. It is people, men and women, speaking out against the centuries of disrespectful and sometimes abusive treatment in the workplace at the hands of people who have power over them. It’s happened to me and to almost EVERY woman I know.
It is not a movement, it is not a new fad…..it is shining a light on this abuse of power and saying…ENOUGH.
Austin is either saying that we have a lot workplace harassment issues which he doesn’t consider to be problems or blaming the heavy labor relations issues of Storey County on the pesky “#metoo” movement . Either way he doesn’t see that there are leadership issues.
It is job of HR and managers to make the workplace productive and to eliminate barriers to that productivity. Harassment is a huge barrier and I know that people have left the county because of it. HR owns making sure the workplace is free of harassment, discrimination and arbitrary practices by training all employees and managers, auditing the environment and ensuring that consequences happen for violations.
It is always a leadership issue because leadership allows it, or doesn’t act on it when they see it or doesn’t mete out consequences for violations.
But hey, not in Storey County…..NO leadership issues here!! This looks like it will continue under Austin…..and it WILL be Austin.
The last agenda item of note was the renewal of the Residential Construction Tax by the School District.
In 1981 Storey County enacted a $500 per new residence “tax” to be added to your construction permit when you pull it. The NRS allows for $1600 and the other counties charge that. Superintendent Todd Hess is requesting that Storey County raise it to $1000 initially then on to $1600.
The District has many capital improvement projects that need to get done and this is a major source of funding. They have only gotten between $4000-$9000 per year in the last several years and that just isn’t enough. Todd noted that the abatements have also cut into the other revenues that the school needs. This will be looked at and discussed at another meeting.
SIDENOTE– I’ll say it again….corporate welfare comes out of OUR pockets and it has a bigger price than we know. More is coming…
And then…….mercifully the meeting ended………..and so has this summary