Nicole Barde provides another blow by blow assessment of the Storey County Commissioners meeting. The TRIC bond measure is on life support and the County Manager is going to have to conduct business in the light of day and keep the door open. Nice!
THE EFFLUVIUM BOND DID NOT PASS PRELIMINARY MUSTER WITH THE STATE DUE TO INSUFFICIENT REVENUES COMING OUT OF THE TRIC EXCREMENT DISTRICT TO PAY FOR THE BOND.
THERE IS A RUN ON LIPSTICK TO PUT ON THIS PIG. UNLESS THE ENTIRE COUNTY IS DECLARED A TAX INCREMENT DISTRICT I DON’T KNOW HOW THE BOND WILL GET PAID.
OH, AND IF THERE ISN’T ENOUGH MONEY FROM TRIC TO PAY FOR THE BOND HOW DO WE GET A TAX REBATE/ROLLBACK?
By Nicole Barde
The Staff updates were few and are pretty well covered in County Manager Pat Whitten’s summary.
Pat Whitten’s update was focused on the Zip code issue which has been included in the Postal Reform act currently going thru Congress. It would give all of Storey County one zip code. In addition to including this change in the Postal Reform act it is also part of other bills which should give it a number of ways to get approved. Pat also mentioned that they are still working on trying to get the citizens of Storey County a tax rebate or rollback and mentioned that they have looked at how the state of Alaska and Oregon does this as a way to accomplish it for Storey. He noted that it may take legislative action to accomplish it.
During Board comments Commissioner, TRI Principal and brothel owner Lance Gilman gave a summary of his trip back to Washington DC as part of the Nevada Local Officials Convention. It’s pretty well covered in Whitten’s report but the thing of note was Lance’s comment that it is President Trump’s intention to “de-regulate America”. The president wants to eliminate 2 regulations for every one new regulation that is enacted. Lance said that he was quite impressed with this especially in light of the fact that it takes the Department of Transportation up to 9 years to get fully approved for major roads projects ( like the spaghetti bowl and other interchanges). He noted that during the meeting with the Department of Transportation that they were eager to get moving on numerous infrastructure projects and that would like to see a 1 year turnaround for permitting in the future. This is important for Storey County since we have numerous traffic issues on I-80 near Lockwood and TRI that need immediate correction.
Agenda Item #14 was a review of the County Manager Job Description. This is a continuation of prior discussions which centered on placing limits to the County Managers authority to independently sign contracts and sign checks with limited Commission involvement. The recent “outrage” over Pat Whitten’s giving of hefty bonuses to a couple of his friends is just one example of what the Commission is trying to curtail. Legal counsel has suggested that the best way to put these types of limits on the County Manger is thru the County’s Administrative Policies and Procedures. Specifically they reviewed policy 042 which is around Contracts and Agreements and have limited the County Manager to have authority up to $10,000 for contracts and agreements and no more that 10% of a total bid on change orders on existing contracts. Everything else needs to come before the board. There are 2 other policies which will be revised to include authority over Budgets and the retirement bonuses.
Lance agreed that there needed to be a strict limit on dollar amounts.
Comptroller Hugh Gallagher said that the business of the county has grown tremendously and with it a lot of financial and legal liability. That a single individual’s authorization level if too low is restrictive and too high without higher input and authorization places him/her at risk.
During public comment I asked if there was a compensation policy which could limit his actions. Meaning, could the county manager give out of cycle salary increases over what was initially approved for the year and if so how would that be limited. The answer was that there wasn’t a specific limit in the compensation policy.
Sam Toll, Editor of the Storey Teller, got up and agreed with Lance’s sentiment that there needs to be stricter controls since Pat’s successor may not be as sober minded about spending money.
This agenda topic and the approvals were continued to the January 2,, 2018 meeting.
During Public Comment at the end of the meeting I got up to ask a clarifying question about Lance’s comment at the Lockwood open forum which he held on Wednesday November 1st.
During that meeting Lance said that the Bond that was being crafted to have the citizens of Storey County pay for the effluvium pipeline from Reno to the TRIC GID was basically dead since the county couldn’t qualify. So I asked for clarification on that this meant.
Bottom-line it means that the “structure” of the Bond didn’t fly because the size of the Economic District from which the revenue would come from to pay that bond was too small from a revenue standpoint. SB 1 which was crafted to provide the rules around abatements and other Economic Development activities stipulates the conditions for how debt can be raised. In this case the “Tax increment area” approach is required.
The initial thinking was that the revenue from a subset of TRIC would be designated as the payback source. Meaning that the incremental revenue over and above the 2016 revenue levels for that small subset would pay the bond. That “small” subset includes Tesla, Google and Switch as the big players. The Tax increment area approach has a formula for how much of the revenue from that area can be used to pay the debt……this subset, Tax Increment Area, didn’t qualify. Apparently based on back of the envelope calculations all of TRIC may not qualify.
That’s because the bond can only be paid by INCREMENTAL revenue over and above 2016 levels and since most of TRIC is already sold, and since the big players have tax abatements, and since most of the business license revenue has already been paid, and since the zip code sales tax issue hasn’t been resolved…………….TRIC may never be able to qualify based on this approach.
It was stated during the meeting that Bob Sader, TRICs attorney, as well as J & A Consulting, the Las Vegas consulting firm helping Gilman and Norman structure this debt transfer, are working on an alternative solution. Apparently Bob Sader has declared the Tax Increment Area approach “on life support” due to any number of factors not the least of which are the vagaries of how to fund debt and how to create special tax districts.
The feeling in the room was hard to read…on the one hand when Kris Thompson, TRIC employee and Lance Gilman employee and roommate got up during public comment to put lipstick on this pig he said that the Bond hadn’t been heard by the board with jurisdiction over these matters. That it was a preliminary finding and that there were still a string of people for it to go thru.
On the other hand, the information I was given is not optimistic as far as having TRIC revenue paying for the Bond….just not enough incremental revenue in the short/medium run.
Sam Toll, Editor of the Storey Teller, got up to ask the Commission not to burden then taxpayers with this bond. He told them that those who benefit from the pipeline should be the one paying for it directly not by diverting TRIC revenues which belong to the citizens of Storey County.
Next Sam asked the Commission to schedule “workshops” as a separate meeting and after hours so that there can be more participation by Storey County Residents. As it stand now, these “workshops” are held as an agenda item within the Commission meeting and there isn’t enough time, or structure to allow people to hash things out and for the commission to gather robust inputs from the public.
This request fell on deaf ears….along with Sam’s prior requests to allow Public Comment at the beginning of the meeting as required by NRS.
Sam also asked if the $900k budget for the transferred Fire Marshal and Business License functions has moved from the Fire District to Community Development. Pat Whitten replied that the Fire Marshal function was contracted out and not transferred out and that the General Fund has covered those services in the past. Pat noted that there will actually be savings all around as a result of the changes.