Packed House For Lockwood Pipeline Meeting
A standing room only crowd of nearly a hundred River District residents packed the Lockwood Senior Center to hear Storey County Commission Candidate Nicole Barde address the facts of the TRIC pipeline proposal.
The crowd was nearly twice the size of the Lockwood Pipeline meeting The Teller attended last year (read about the VCH meeting held last year here). Ms. Barde began the meeting by providing full disclosure that she was in support of the pipeline to promote growth at TRIC. She went on to express her opposition to the use of public funds to do so.
Ms. Barde then described the actions that have occurred this week to help fast-track the pipeline proposal through the system.
Commissioners approve the creation of the Special Assessment District (SAD)
The first event was the Commissioners meeting on September 4th where the Commissioners voted to approve moving the proposal forward. Both Ms. Barde and the Teller’s Sam Toll stepped up to provide opposition to the use of public money to reimburse the companies.
After the September 4th Commissioner meeting, Barde held a similar meeting in the Virginia City Highlands. While the meeting was lightly attended, not one person was in favor of the use of future tax revenues being spent on the pipeline.
Legislature Approves Taxpayer Increment Area (TIA)
The third action occurred when the Interim Finance Committee (IFC) of the Nevada Legislature met on September 5th to discuss this matter. After a (n ultra longwinded) presentation from Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis, the legislators had some pointed questions. The best ones came from Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson who questioned the water rights transfer from NDOT to TRIC without compensation. She also asked if it may be time for GOED to realize that the development engine is running on all cylinders here in Northern Nevada and no longer needs to be developed with more taxpayer investment. The IFC approved the creation of the TIA with some opposition. Neither legislator representing Storey County, Assembly-member Jim Wheeler or Senator James Settlemeyer, opposed the measure. Nevada media reported on this meeting which you can read here and here and here.
Commissioners Approve TIA In Special Meeting
A special meeting of the Storey County Commission was held on September 6th to approve the TIA which could only be done after the Legislature passed it the day prior. The Courtroom was basically empty save the Commissioners, Controller Gallagher, Planning Director Osborne, Assistant DA Loomis and Clerk Treasurer Vanessa Stephens and Marty Johnson from JNA Consulting. In the audience were representatives from Switch and Emerald City Empire, Sam Toll, and Nicole Barde. The meeting was over in 20 minutes with Mr. Johnson explaining the TIA again and the creation of the TIA was approved after voices of opposition from Barde and Toll.
Meeting at the River District
Ms. Barde went on to present the information in an unbiased manner explaining the details of the bond. She described how it will be repaid with the creation of the Special Assessment District and how future tax revenues will ultimately be used to reimburse companies with the Tax Increment Area. During the meeting, Storey County Controller Hugh Gallagher, Planning Director Austin Osborne and Brian Gordon of Applied Analysis provided additional clarity to the details of the proposal.
The vast majority of the resident questions fielded by Ms. Barde were voiced in terms of opposing the pipeline being paid for by public funds. No other community has been more directly impacted by TRIC than the River District and this latest investment in the park was not received favorably. More than a dozen residents voiced opposition and only one, Lisa Holleman, talked about the benefits of a similar proposal she experienced in Pahrump where $20 million of public money helped fund development of property and turned a 3000 person community into a 50,000 person community replete with hotels and box stores.
What About The Water Rights?
One of the members of the audience asked about the dropping aquifer levels and how they came up with the water rights to the effluent. This brought up an interesting conversation that rehashed the testimony of NDOT director Rudy Malfabon. The Truckee River is overseen by a Federal Watermaster and is one of the most litigated and regulated waterways in the west. One of the overriding factors of the river management is that all the water that is destained to flow into the waterway can’t be taken out without other water being put back in.
TRIC is transferring 1800 acre feet of their own water rights to Truckee Meadows Water Authority in exchange for the water they will be diverting to the park. NDOT is believed to possess. Interestingly, it was clear in the IFC meeting that NDOT’s ownership of these rights has not been legally confirmed. In most cases, these water rights exist in paper only; they are primarily water rights on and adjacent to roadways in the watershed area. In any event, NDOT is giving TRIC these water rights for free to then use in exchange for the diversion of an additional 2200 acre feet of water from the river to the park. In the IRC, Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson elicited a value for those water rights at roughly 17-20 million.
Fair and Balanced
While Candidate Barde has an opinion about the proposal, her presentation of the facts was unbiased and objective. Input from Osborne, Gallagher and Gordon was equally unbiased and delivered the information down the center of the fairway. The gentlemen representing the County commended Candidate Barde for her objectivity indicating that she accomplished her objective of presenting the information fairly and objectively.
Petition Signatures; The Final Tally
Ms. Barde provided three petitions to sign; One to Approve, one to oppose and one being undecided on the use of future tax revenue to reimburse the SAD members for their payments. The meeting went on for nearly two hours and many of the participants left early and didn’t sign any of the petitions. However, at the end of the meeting, 9 people were undecided and wanted more information, 35 people were opposed and not one person voiced approval of the proposal.
Because of the strong public interest in the proposal, Ms. Barde is planning another meeting to be held in the Rainbow Bend Clubhouse sometime in early October. At this meeting she will provide an update on the process and to collect additional signatures from residents.
Don’t Be Invisible, Keep Up The Heat
It is important to let our Commissioners know how you feel. Commissioner Gilman has a financial interest in this matter, so a single no vote will derail the effort.
Call Marshall McBride at 775-847-0968 and let him know how you feel about this, or email him here
Call Jack McGuffey at 775-847-0968 and let him know how you feel about this, or email him here.
Call Pat Whitten at 775-847-0968 and let him know how you feel about this, or email him here