Commissioner Carmona asks the Legislature to give Storey County permission to raise taxes.
Readers of the Teller may remember when Commissioner Marshall McBride told legislators that it was unfair for people driving diesel vehicles to avoid paying more taxes than their gasoline-burning counterparts in Storey County (click here to watch the video of Marshall making his case in 2017). The County Commission wants to void the voice of the people and raise taxes, again. We already voted against this once.
Early in this year’s cycle, County Commissioner Jay Carmona made the same request of the 80th legislative session. AB48 would allow rural county commissions to enact an increase of diesel fuel tax. Commissioner Carmona’s testimony isn’t as chafing as McBride’s was two years ago:
Storey County voters, along with every other rural county, overwhelmingly nixed the same request in 2016. Less than six months after the no vote, McBride stood before the legislature asking them to thwart the will of the people and give him the power to raise taxes.
Nicole Barde reported on Commissioner Carmona’s testimony in her latest blog post (which you can read here). Commissioner Carmona took to the VCH email discussion group to defend his actions and admonish Barde for not reaching out to him before referencing his testimony.
In defense of his testimony, Carmona told Storey County voters that he was right in asking for the power to raise our taxes. Carmona suggests that, in spite of Commissioner Gilman’s recent Proclamation of Abundance 2.0 inferring that we are flush with cash, Storey County is desperately in need of funds to fix our roads. Gilman (on the record) says we have plenty of cash, Carmona says otherwise in his testimony. I wonder who is telling the truth?
Consulting the Ouija Board
Carmona then went on to predict the future by stating that should the legislature pass AB48 the following events would take place:
“I believe in giving the citizens the opportunity to decide whether or not we want to impose this tax. While we the constituents voted against this tax in 2016, that’s 3 years ago and I’m interested in getting current feedback from the voters. What the blog writer may fail to realize is that I’m the deciding vote. Commissioner Gilman had to recuse himself from voting last time on the Diesel Tax and he will have to recuse himself again. If this legislation passes and this is brought before the Storey County Commissioners, I will move that it gets put on the ballot for the constituents to decide. If Commissioner McBride moves to impose the tax as he did in 2015, my motion to put it to the voters will kill it and life goes on without a Diesel tax in Storey County.”
Carmona closed his crystal ball gazing by making the following statement:
“It’s apparent that some bloggers are only interested in shock value vs. the truth or the rationale behind certain actions. No one has reached out to ask me why I did what I did. They’re interested only in their own agenda. As my tenure continues, I expect more of the same. I encourage each and every one of you to reach out to me any time you have questions about my actions or any decisions I make as your Commissioner.”
Welcome to the big leagues, Commissioner Carmona. When you make a statement or take a stand on any issue, citizens have the right to make reference to it, comment on it, and agree with it or take issue with it as they see fit.
Asking Tough Questions
Carmona had the chance to clarify his intention in front of the Legislature during his testimony. Had he told us that he personally respected the will of the people and would have put it to a vote, he would have earned mad respect. Instead, all he did was carry the County’s water.
Not wishing to incur a similar rebuke, I reached out to Commissioner Carmona with the following questions:
- Given that the Storey County voters have already spoken against it 60-40, what information have you gathered to suggest the voters want to see this on the ballot again?
- As a Republican in a county dominated by Republican voters, I assume you aware that the Storey County Republican Party Platform and the Nevada Republican Platform both stand firmly against raising taxes. Given this “no more taxes” stance by your party, why would you not maintain a principled stance consistent with your party platform and simply vote no if the diesel tax increase is presented?
- According to Commissioner Gilman, Storey County has an abundance of money thanks to his efforts at TRIC. Rather than burdening taxpayers with more taxes, why would you not simply use this abundance of money to pay for the roads?
- While the bill on its face is about diesel taxes, the bills more subversive intent is to circumvent and override the will of the people. When you testified before the committee, was it your intention to support a bill that quashes the voice of the people by neutering their vote?
Carmona’s disappointing response:
“You’ve read my statement on SB48. I have no further comment for you on the matter.”
News flash: When you dodge questions, you invite speculation.
Ouija Boards Standard Issue?
There are two concerning takeaways from this interlude:
I remember my kids asking me over and over again to get their way when I told them no. I reminded them that “No doesn’t mean yes if you ask the same question a thousand times. No Means NO!” It would be nice if the Legislature and our Commissioners would take this attitude into account as they conduct the public’s business. When we say no, stop asking the same darned question, again and again, expecting us to change our mind. If we change our mind, we will let you know.
Commissioner Carmona’s prediction of the future may suggest something troubling about how our county is run: How can a vote on an issue be decided before the issue is presented to the public?
When decisions are preordained, why bother with public participation, workshops or comment?