Nicole Barde

You can find the agenda packet HERE and County Manager Austin Osborns summary of the meeting HERE. Commissioner Jay Carmona’s summary HERE. You can find the recording of the meeting HERE.

This was a procedural meeting with a couple of lengthy presentations taking up a lot of the time. Austin’s summary of the meeting covers all of the key items so I will just amplify a few points.

During Staff updates Operations and Projects coordinator Mike Northam talked about the negotiations that the County is engaged in with diesel and propane providers. They will establish special rates for all Storey County residents as well as an “employee” rate for County workers. They have 3 bids for gas/diesel and will have two suppliers. One has rates which are better for Lockwood and TRI the other has better rates for VC and VCH. They are still working on propane rates. The current supplier, Ferrell Gas, is the only one who put in a bid. The other suppliers stated that the cost to replace the hundreds of tanks is prohibitive for them to do.

Comptroller Hugh Gallagher and Mike Nevin both reported that the Gold Hill tank and sewage treatment plant projects are moving along rapidly. Funding has been secured thru the state which will require a lot of paperwork but it is getting done. Later in the agenda Community Relations Manager Cheri Nevin reported that the cost burden to the County for building the treatment plant will amount to about $264k. The full project cost is about $1.6 million dollars but as a result of combining several state and federal grants, the net cost to taxpayers and residents in Gold Hill is significantly lower.

SIDENOTE– I have said this before and I’ll say it again, Cheri Nevin knows her stuff. She has become expert in finding, securing and managing grant monies which save us all a lot of money. Imagine what having to pass on the full cost of the plant would mean in rate increases to Gold Hill residents? At this point, the $264k is still a pass-thru but a tolerable one if that’s all that the residents have to pay.

But I digress….

Assistant DA Loomis gave an update on the settlement conference between the Peri Trust and International Investments in the River District. A settlement was reached whereby International Investments will pay the county $42k for 3 years of back taxes on a piece of property where the old brothel is located. Peri Trust will give their interest in that property to International Investments and International Investments will remove the brothel structures which are tagged as a “nuisance”.

County manager Austin Osborn said that the County Strategic Plan was moving forward. He has reached out to a consultant to help with the process. He will be involving the communities for inputs into the plan.

SIDENOTE– Austin did a strategic plan meeting in 2017. I summarized that meeting HERE ….THAT consultant started out by asking questions like “if Storey County were a car what car would it be, what song would it be, what movie would it be ….etc” It was a room full of county employees and me. A waste of time because it was done badly and apparently with the County letting the consultants do whatever they wanted as opposed to telling them what was required. What happened to all those great plans? I never saw the output from that meeting..did you? Was that just window dressing? Is this just going to be window dressing?

Incredulous as ever I digress……….

Austin continued by saying that the Waste Management negotiations meetings are coming along and that they will be more sensitive to resident issues and will be having a special complaint line to resolve them more quickly. Austin is doing a listening tour of the communities titled “ coffee with the County”. The one held in VC was successful according to Austin and there will be more. The Highlands has a followup meeting to the one held previously to discuss Highlands specific issues…it is on Thursday, August 22 at the firehouse.

Stacy York, Senior Center Executive Director, gave an excellent presentation, HERE, on the Senior Services Vision and Plan. I suggest that you review it.

It is a summary of the inputs received from the community meetings which she held earlier this year as well as an extensive fact-finding tour that she took visiting other senior centers around the state. This will establish some of the key elements for the county to provide for its ( ever-increasing) senior population. The results of the community meetings show some different needs in each community. The information on the other Senior Centers is interesting as well. They have dedicated craft rooms, dedicated Meals on Wheels kitchens, a medical room for in house doctors appointments, garages for their delivery vehicles, and lots and lots of space for storage and other needs.

The number one priority is to establish a steady source of revenue for the Senior Center. Stacy noted that they are looking at having a congregate location (for activities and meals) in Mark Twain and looking at adding a facility in the Highlands (in conjunction with the potential for a Community Center). The Lockwood Senior Center is being looked at for expansion…but all of this takes money beyond what the county is currently providing and so grants need to be secured.

SIDENOTE– Winnemucca and Elko have beautiful centers…along with Eureka…mining taxes built those facilities. If you have never been to Douglas County’s senior center you should go…it is a spectacular facility with a large workout area, lots of space, great dining and more. They get their tax revenues from UNABATED property and sales tax from South Lake Tahoe….and lots of it.

Were it not for the corporate welfare of abated taxes out at TRIC and the $16 million dollar pipeline tax giveaway we could have fully funded and effective county-wide Senior Services locations as well as enough funding for our schools to do the needed repairs that they need and likely build a new school.

Just a thought.

But I digress….

Todd Hess, Storey County School Superintendent, was back to request that the County increase the residential construction tax so that the schools could get more money to do repairs. It would increase in increments over three years. Storey County has not increased this tax, which goes primarily to the schools, since forever. The other counties rates are much higher. Since the schools are starved for money in general having this low a tax isn’t seen as practical.

Commissioners McBride and Carmona approved this with Commissioner Gilman being absent at this meeting.. Commissioner Carmona said that he is a fiscal conservative and does not want to increase taxes or fees but that in this case the state has us over a barrel and he will vote for it on that basis.

SIDENOTE– First off…shame on the County for not recognizing much earlier that our construction tax was so low that the schools couldn’t make do with it…we’ve lost tons of money missing out on the TRIC construction boom of the recent past.

**CORRECTION to this post-the Construction tax is for residential construction only…TRIC does not pay any sonstruction tax …so we did not miss that boom. nicole 8/22/2019…

Having said that…here again, ABATED TRIC taxes have robbed our schools of much needed monies regardless of the low construction tax. It would seem to me that the recipients of that corporate welfare might have considered the impact that their “savings” would have on education and services in our small county. If they had a conscience they could have given some of that back to specifically address the shortfalls created by their “ good for them, bad for us” deals.

While they enjoy their “most favored company” status…Todd is struggling to get money to repair the roofs on his buildings and do other needed improvements. Meanwhile the county has to raise a tax to do it. It will affect regular residents building/improving homes as well as the companies at TRIC. Much of the big construction at TRIC may be over and capturing significant revenue from this may not be great. The scholls still need more money.

While we’re on the subject of taxes….Commissioner Carmona’s declaration of fiscal conservatism rings hollow to me. Did he forget that he testified IN FAVOR of increasing the diesel tax at the Legislature this year? Did he forget that he voted to approve another bonus for another highly paid county employee? Did he forget that he voted against the cancellation of an expensive consultant contract where the county was paying the contractor for no work. All of this is money out of our pockets.

When will we actually see his fiscal conservatism? Meanwhile, I’d like to see him negotiate a deal whereby some of the TRIC companies contribute in a meaningful way to help alleviate the impact of their abatements.

But I digress…..

The Dayton Valley Area Drainage Master Plan was presented and is in the packet for you to review. Altho a broad plan encompassing Lyon and Storey Counties this affects Mark Twain primarily.

3 thoughts on “Summary of the August 20, 2019 Storey County Commission Meeting

  1. Please excuse my ignorance, but in reference to, “During Staff updates Operations and Projects coordinator Mike Northam talked about the negotiations that the County is engaged in with diesel and propane providers. They will establish special rates for all Storey County residents as well as an “employee” rate for County workers. They have 3 bids for gas/diesel and will have two suppliers.”

    Are they discussing fuels for heating, or does the inclusion of diesel refer to automobile fuel? If so, how would county residents and employees get that lower cost at the county’s pumps?

      1. Well, I wish county residents wouldn’t have to pay the higher tax on diesel for their vehicles. Just sayin….

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