Proclamation of Abundance 1.0
In 2014, Commissioner Lance Gilman sent a letter to all Storey County residents proclaiming the abundance of wealth that was being generated at TRIC would be shared with everyone in the county.
This letter caused a ripple of excitement to run through the County. According to the US Census site, more than 50% of the residents of Storey County are 50 years or older. Many of these folks are on a fixed income, and the prospect of having an extra couple grand in their pockets was a welcome thought indeed.
For the next several years, Commissioner Gilman continued to talk about how the County was swimming in cash. He would tell us how he was tirelessly trying to concoct a way to get that money back into the hands of the deserving. As the years came and went, our hopes continued to rise while Commissioner Gilman failed to deliver on his promise.
Former Commissioner Jack McGuffey took the baton from Gilman and ran his re-election campaign into the ground by trying to bang the drum of abundance and get the county to share the wealth. Over and over, Jack and Lance insisted the County had the means to share the wealth.
Try as they might, Gilman and McGuffey could not follow through on their promises. Even though Gilman hired “the best tax advisor in Nevada” to advise him on the best way to share the wealth, Assistant DA Keith Loomis told them it was not legal to issue property tax refunds to residents only. Undaunted, Gilman and McGuffey tried to push through an Alaska style oil surplus check. Assistant DA Loomis told them that the Alaska style deal would require Legislative action to accomplish. Despite Gilman’s expert advice, there is no legal way for him to honor his promise.
Yes, We Have No Bananas
The plain fact of the matter is that even if Gilman could torture the law into letting him share the abundance of TRIC, there is no money to actually share. When this charade was being discussed in Commission meetings, I asked Controller Hugh Gallagher that if there was a legal way to get ‘er done, would there be any surplus money in the budget to cut checks to every resident in the County. His answer was long winded and wound around the corner, but the cliff notes version was simple. The answer was no.
So now we come to the Commission meeting on April 2nd. Commissioner Gilman stood before the residents of the County and issued his Proclamation of Abundance 2.0. You can read the full text of Proclamation 2.0 below this article.
In his latest proclamation, Gilman promised to:
- Ask Mark Twain and Lockwood what they want in terms of Capital Improvements by May 2nd and then fund those requests
- Allocate $25,000 a year to supplement the Food Banks at the Senior Center in Lockwood and Mark Twain
- Make sure the Senior Centers in Mark Twain and Lockwood are funded (they are)
- Take over maintenance of the privately owned and maintained Cartwright and Lousetown roads
Breaking Down the Numbers
For Item One, Mark Twain may want flood protection and a real Senior Center and Lockwood may want a real Senior Center. None of these requests would fit into this budget as approved at the April 2nd meeting.
For Item Two, Gilman supplies food to these communities. Hopefully, this money would supplement his efforts through Mustang Cares, but this could also be a ploy for him to be able to quietly scale back his involvement. Either way, any money spent in this direction should, in my opinion, be done through The Community Chest. The Community Chest has a track record of delivering the most in terms of direct impact with the least amount of funding.
For Item Three, yes, the senior centers are funded in the current budget.
For Item Four, as a Storey County Taxpayer, I have little appetite for taking over an additional 5 or 6 miles of paved road. Commissioner Carmona lobbied the Legislature to raise the Diesel Fuel Tax in direct conflict with the voice of the people. Adding these extra miles of roads that are currently maintained by the owners of the private landowners in the Virginia City Highlands would change the status of these roads from private to public. This could potentially cost County taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) in upcoming years. Everyone who purchased property in the HIghlands did so knowing they are responsibility for
Commissioner Carmona sent a communication to the Virginia City Highlands email discussion board endorsing the idea. As the president of the Home Owners Association that is responsible to maintain the roads in question less than six weeks after testifying that Storey County needs more money to keep up with our maintenance.
Carmona’s statements conflict with each other. If we don’t have enough money to maintain our existing roads, how can we afford to take responsibility for miles of new roads?
What’s The Real Reason The County Might Want These Roads?
Finally, there may be another reason that the county might want to take possession. I will address this reason in a future article.
In conclusion, here we go again. While Commissioner Gilman’s Proclamation of Abundance 2.0 is more realistic and there may or may not be money available to accomplish it, it still smacks of the same thing that Proclamation 1.0 did. By making the proclamation, Gilman appears to be starting his 2020 re-election efforts.
STATEMENT BY LANCE GILMAN
AT BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONER MEETING
APRIL 2, 2019
Mr. Chairman, Commissioner Carmona, ladies & gentlemen,
As we start discussing our budget for the upcoming year, I would like to introduce a bold new initiative which would allow residents to share in the success of the County.
You may recall that I have tried for 4 years to encourage the County staff to find a way to rebate or refund or lower tax rates for County residents. I must say this has been frustrating for me that we couldn’t find a way to get this done.
And we need to keep in mind that the financial success in the County, where our revenues have gone from $3.5 million to ten times that – $36 million – in just 17 years has had impact already. The three unions of county employees have done well. Virginia City has seen a lot of financial progress, including the recent purchase of the fairgrounds, and new sewer and water projects. The Virginia City Senior Center is getting great support and has a super food program. This is all great and was long overdue, to be sure.
For the next five years I’d like to see us spread the success more into the outlying communities (Lockwood, Virginia City Highlands, and Mark Twain).
I would like to put forward the following plan:
1. For Lockwood and Mark Twain:
a. Within the next 30 days, a town hall meeting in each community with Planning Department and Public Works participation to get ideas and suggestions from the residents about what they need for capital projects, and then for those to be funded in our budget.
b. $25,000 a year for each senior/community center earmarked allocation to stock a food pantry with staple products for the elderly and families in need in those two communities. I’d like this added to the budget.
c. I want to ensure our current plans for upgrading the senior/community centers in Lockwood and Mark Twain are fully funded, and I’m looking for confirmation from the Comptroller that this is the case.
2. For the Highlands, I’d like discussions to commence immediately with the Highlands Community regarding whether the County should take over the main arterials – Cartwright and Lousetown Roads. This means they would dedicate those roads to the County and the County would be responsible from that point for upgrade and maintenance. And if Commissioner Carmona and the Highlands residents do agree to this idea, then these costs should be added into the budget. This would relieve those residents of directly bearing the maintenance costs for those roads. Most other arterials in the County are maintained by the County or the State, and we should do the same with the Highlands, if they so desire.
This is an important project for all of us, and if my fellow commissioners agree I would like all County staff to do what it takes to bring this into reality. This is all doable, legal, and it’s certainly timely.
Please let’s join together and get this done!
Thank you Mr. Chairman…..