MUSHROOM MANAGEMENT WAS ON FULL DISPLAY AT THIS MEETING
RULES MADE WHILE YOU WAIT—NO QUESTIONS WERE ALLOWED ON THE COUNTY BUDGET—OR AT LEAST NOT ALLOWED FROM ME….SO WHY IS THERE NO MONEY IN THE ROAD BUDGET FOR THE HIGHLANDS? IS TESLA PAYING ITS SERVICE AGREEMENT OR NOT?
WITH ONLY COMMISSIONER CARMONA VOTING AGAINST IT…GARY HAMES’S $136K CONTRACT IS CANCELLED BECAUSE THINGS IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ARE GOING GREAT AND THEY DON’T NEED HIM ANYMORE. CAN YOU SPELL S-P-I-N?
CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU TO VALERIE LABEL FLATLEY WHO SECURED $12K FOR VRWPA’S SAFETY SIGNS AND TO JIM POSTON FOR STEPPING UP TO SIT ON THE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
You can see the agenda packet HERE, County Manager Pat Whitten’s summary HERE, Commissioner Jay Carmona’s Facebook summary HERE and the recording of the meeting is HERE.
There were no staff updates. During Board updates Commissioner, brothel owner, TRI principal, former BLOCKCHAINS consultant and aspiring hemp grower Lance Gilman gave a brief update on his 5 day NACO session in Seattle. He said that a lot of ground was covered with regards to the Lands Bill, endangered species, deregulation, and a variety of Federal Grants and other financial assistance available was discussed. Specifically, Lance was impressed with one program that would provide those 62 and older with up to a $20k loan at one percent to improve their homes from a safety and accessibility standpoint.
The first agenda item was the request from the Nevada Rural Housing Authority for Storey County to transfer our unused “bond volume” cap to them so that they can continue to grant loans. The presentation in the packet is quite informative HERE.
Next up was the request by International Investments LLC ( who owns parcels in the Rainbow Bend area) for the county to help secure an easement across BLM land near the intersection of Peri Ranch Road and Mustang Road. After the description of the action was completed. Lance said that it is in our best interest to do this as long as the right of way is extended, and we work with the developer to get it done. County Manager in waiting Austin Osborn said that there would also need to be conversations with all of the property owners including the LCC. Additionally, he said that the LCC would grant the easement gratis with conditions.
Commissioner Carmona said that he knew that the people there would appreciate the route.
I got up to ask if this easement had been discussed with the residents of Lockwood and Rainbow Bend since I understand that the route would cut thru a residential area and that the weight of the trucks would undermine the closest bridge crossing. I asked if the traffic would get diverted to the other heavier bridge nearest the Fire Station. I was told that they had public meetings with the LCC as well as the Canyon GID and that there are still a lot of details to be worked out. This was just the first step.
The Commissioners had three options to chose from on this resolution. A no vote, a yes vote with little stipulation, a yes vote with the stipulation that the developer deeds his portion of the easement to the County.
Lance asked what the developer would prefer and he said that the second option with no stipulations would be best. Austin got up to suggest that the Commission vote on option one with the stipulations and they did.
SIDENOTE: I had seen this item in the packet last week and reached out to my Rainbow Bend contacts to see if they were aware of it and they were not. When they did some research they found that the LCC had been consulted but not in a community meeting. The Board of the Canyon GID had not been presented to. There IS concern in that community about the added traffic and trucks in particular. They had not heard of this and would hope that the County will inform them at some point in time. I hope that this happens
Next up was the appointment of Jim Poston, Highlands resident, to the Storey County Regional Transportation Commission. He is the perfect candidate given his many years in the “traffic” arena. Congratulations Jim!
The next item was the sale of the Crystal Bar, current location of the VCTC. The appraisal came in at $385k and would not be sold for less than that. Commissioner Marshall McBride said that it came in low. After a bit of discussion, it was decided that they need to see the full price of the entire project. The sale of the Crystal is to facilitate the building of a new VCTC facility on the old Black and Howell building site. Lance wanted to know all of those expenses before approving the sale which will have contingencies. The appraisal is only good for 6 months so VCTC Director Deny Dotson has about 90 days to get renderings and a preliminary bid on building the new building.
Next up was the budget. It came in balanced. They will be adding more headcount to replace a couple of the hats that Austin wears since he’s moving into the County Manager Job. Comptroller Hugh Gallagher thinks that the Sheriff’s budget could be leaner if he moved to 12-hour shifts. The Sheriff said that the only person who can dictate how to organize the Sheriffs Office is the Sheriff. That having 12-hour shifts isn’t a safe or viable option. Hugh disagreed and it was left at that.
You can see exactly what Comptroller Hugh Gallagher presented by way of narrative to the budget HERE.
SIDENOTE- As I typically do, I go thru the budget by line item, prepare some questions and go up during public comment to get clarification on things that aren’t clear…at least to me. In the past, these questions were answered. This time was different. I got up and had a few questions which I stated then waited for the responses.
I was told by Commission Chair Marshall McBride that I would not be allowed to ask questions….that this was for public COMMENT only.
NO QUESTIONS WERE TO BE ASKED OR ANSWERED ON THE BUDGET BY THE PUBLIC.
So, we are supposed to just accept without question what they do. Nice.
I guess that in addition to making it hard to get public records that they will now refuse to answer questions in public forums. How (not) transparent. We will likely hear that if the public has questions to reach out to the commissioners or Pat Whitten directly. That’s great for the individual asking the question but it isn’t helpful for the rest of the public who don’t know what they don’t know. Obviously, the Commission doesn’t want me asking any questions which means that they don’t want the public to know anything. Nice.
Here were my questions which we have no answers to:
1-Why is there a -$744k reduction from the tentative budget revenue section for Tesla. Is this because they still don’t want to sign a full agreement, do we expect them to pay this?
2-Given Lance Gilman’s proclamation of abundance 2.0 several meetings ago declaring that the county will look for a way to assume Cartwright and Lousetown roads in the Highlands….I found no funding for this. I also didn’t see any line item for the typical road repair in the ROADS budget for Cartwright and Lousetown. Why is that?
3-I had asked to see the Infrastructure and Capital Projects lists during the tentative budget and was told it would be included in the final budget. These lists were missing. There is $1 million dollars in the budget for each of these areas for a total of $2 million dollars. This is where the $1million dollar parking lot funds came from so what is it now going to be spent on? If you don’t yet have the lists will you be discussing the proposed items and taking inputs in the Commission meeting so that the public can participate?
4-Since the Community Development Director is gone….why is that budget still showing $136k for contract labor? What is the plan here?
5-I also wanted to understand the TRI payback fund since it looks like the payback is much higher than previously paid out
But I digress……..
In the past, the County just included the funds that they give to the various non-profits in as part of their budgets. Assistant DA Loomis noted that the correct way to award funds/grants to the outside organizations was to do it by resolution and so this part of the meeting was to go thru and approve all of these resolutions for St. Mary’s, Pipers, Community Chest, Senior centers, Fourth Ward, RSVP, Fireman’s Museum, the Mark Twain Community Center and the Jeep Posse.
Next up was a request by DA Langer to the Nevada Attorney General for help in the prosecution of a criminal matter. She noted that it is a case that involves the Sheriff. She made a point to note that the County doesn’t have a required position called “ Public Guardian”
SIDENOTE- If it is the case that I have heard about, then it is the man who was waving the gun who the Sheriff had to take down by force. But I’m not sure on this one since we can ask no questions.
Next up was the termination of the consulting contract with Battle Born Consulting Services AKA Gary Hames, formerly Community Development head. ADA Loomis said that since services were no longer being provided and since the department had been re-organized so that services would likely not be needed that the contract should be terminated.
The commissioners had a few comments with Commissioner Carmona asking if the position would be replaced or go vacant. ADA Loomis said that it is currently vacant but there is a temporary manager in there now. Pat Whitten noted that it is to be determined if that position gets replaced.
Marshall said that “the staff have been trained to higher levels and so if we don’t need the services then let’s proceed”.
The vote to terminate the contract was taken with only Commissioner Carmona voting NO.
SIDENOTE- First of all, we KNOW that Gary Hames was escorted off of the premises in late April. We haven’t been told why by the county but Sam Toll wrote an article with documents which were supplied to him from a whistleblower that suggests wrongdoing…..but saying that the Department doesn’t need a manager is OK….it’s a spin on an ambiguous situation…we all know that Gary isn’t there for some reason not of his choosing.
Secondly, Gary drew an $11k paycheck for April AND May altho he wasn’t working in May. IF there is an investigation into wrongdoing it doesn’t look like he is coming back any time soon. So if there is no intention of bringing him back we have to terminate the contract to save us from having to pay him to do no work at $11k per month.
Third, Gary Hames is not an employee…we owe him nothing more or less than what the contract stipulates …the contract allows for either party to terminate for any or no reason given 30 days. I wondered if Gary will collect another paycheck for no work in June….but then, they weren’t taking any questions because we can only COMMENT now.
Lastly, I am truly confused as to why Commissioner Carmona voted NO on terminating the contract. His questions and comments were about the replacement and the position being open. Nothing else was said to explain his NO vote. It is in the best interests of the County to terminate the contract so why a NO vote from Carmona?
But I digress….
Next up was the appointment of Pat Whitten to be “ex officio public guardian in a temporary capacity”.
DA Anne Langer explained that we are required by NRS to have a guardian….we have never really had one. The case that Langer is asking the State AG to prosecute for her involves someone who may not be fully competent or able to represent himself even to his lawyer. Among other things, the guardian position is there for the people who are alone, have no family and need help or who die with no wills and no family and need to get the estate taken care of. This is what they are appointing Pat Whiten to do…temporarily until we work out an interlocal agreement with Carson City to use their person for Storey County.
The pay for this I think is pegged at a flat $25k but Storey wants to negotiate an hourly rate since apparently, we won’t be using it much.
And then the meeting ended for a closed session.
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