• Scott Raine of Raine’s Market appeared before the commissioners to provide a document from the engineer stating that the water retention system for the property acquired from the county for the new market was correct as well as a document from an architect who provided a certificate.

• Cindy Beutel shared the news that Eureka County received $16,200 from the Nevada Commission on Tourism for magazine event advertising.

• Fred Etchegaray on behalf of Eureka County wished the people of the County a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and also “all the people we do business with.”

• Commissioner Etchegaray attended a Rec Board on December and a Medical Committee Advisory meeting; Commissioner Sharkozy attended a Search and Rescue meeting and a Senior Center Christmas luncheon with gift exchange. Chairman Goicoechea related the Sagebrush Ecosystem Council met on the 19th and he said it was “very hopeful” with calculation changes being made to help on the debit side. Making it potentially possible to “get that damn thing off the ground.”

EMS

Mike Sullivan, EMS Coordinator, related Eureka had 4 calls for service and Crescent Valley, 1, bringing the year-to-date service calls to 119, about 6 below this time last year overall. Staffing in Eureka is stable, with one more volunteer driver in Eureka. He asked people to think of volunteering in Crescent Valley. Nov. 18 Sullivan delivered the new driver application to Carson City which became effective immediately, Sullivan was in Elko when the Nov. 19 American MedFlight crash in Elko happened and offered assistance, and Nov. 26, Shallene French represented Eureka County at the funeral for flight nurse, Tiffany Urresti. Sullivan reported a life-saving medication is now offered on ambulances.

Public Works

Public Works, Ray Hodson, Assistant Public Works Director, reported all utility systems are “working good” and the water leak at the pool has been repaired. Trees on county property in Crescent Valley have been trimmed; Public Works and Lumos have been reviewing the parcel map for the Catholic Cemetery in preparation to go to the Planning Commission; a free extrication training will take place in Beowawe and Crescent Valley in the Spring. Hodson said the court house roof leak into the Recorder’s Office is being investigated. Hodson also reported Barrick has agreed to provide assistance in the Spring to repair the JD/Grass Valley Road.

Fiscal Report

Teri Gage of Eide Bailly, LLP, in presenting Eureka County’s Fiscal year 2015-16 Audit and Comprehensive Annual Fiscal Report, related the County has a ‘clean opinion.’ With $113 million in assets, cash went up about $4 million: $2.6 million in the General Fund, and $1 million up in the Road Fund, and an additional $520,000 in other funds. A significant decrease was related to the Nevada Rural Housing Authority note and when the County assumed the property in September, the value of the note was in excess of the value of the property so about $2.8 million was written off. 2016 saw $548,000 in capital asset additions. Net pension liability was about $10.4 million in 2015 and went up to $10.6 million this year. Other post-employment benefits liability went from $9.1 to $10.3 million. Proprietary funds’ net position went down $1.3 million and $423,000 in cash was used which if continued at that rate will eat up funding. $1 million of the loss was depreciation. The Audit revealed a few Statute violations in the current year involving four funds: Eureka Water overspent by $373,000 with the majority being related to depreciation; the Crescent Valley and Diamond Valley water systems also went over. In addition, there was $5,972 in expenses relating to a department where they bought goods and services from a business they own where they can be no pecuniary interest if that department is authorizing transactions. While the County didn’t budget for net proceeds, they received $1.2 million; however C Tax was down about 4 percent. There were a few findings but Gage thought, “In my years with Eureka, this is the least amount of journal entries” and thought the Comptrollers office “did a very, very good job” and saw “significant improvement.”

PUBLIC HEARING TO CONSIDER ALLEGED NUISANCE

The commission held a Public Hearing to consider an alleged nuisance and D.A. Beutel said this was unlike an issue brought months ago where a third-party agency approached the County with concerns; this Hearing was the result of a citizen complaint against Kirk and Sharlene Smith who have a business as KC Recycling. Beutel cautioned the Board and public that as they attempt to “tackle problems in a town without an ordinance outlining what a public nuisance is,” they could see quite a few neighbors using the Commission to bring grievances against each other. The Smiths affirmed in writing they will abate and Chairman Goicoechea commented that with no codes or zoning “be careful where we are going” because “that is where will we wind up.”

NATURAL RESOURCES

Jake Tibbitts, Natural Resources Manager, attended the Ground Water Management Plan Meeting on December 7th where they went through the Draft Plan with the State Engineer’s comments. NRAC also met the evening of the 7th and took action regarding grazing decisions. Humboldt River Basin Workshops by the State Engineer are set for January which Tibbitts will attend.

County hydrogeologist, Dale Bugenig, finished his monitoring in Diamond Valley and did a short presentation on the twelve monitoring wells in the combined Eureka County and DNRPCA Monitoring Network. Bugenig said they wells are well distributed and all except one is equipped with pressure transducer and provide readings every day.

Discussing the Bailey stock well which goes on for a few second a day, Bugenig said the trend for the past three to five years has seen a moderate decline. He said he is seeing evidence of recharge in the aquifer for the first time since monitoring and goes out and measures by hand to make sure the monitor level is real. Bugenig said even though the west is in a drought, Eureka County’s precipitation has been 1.25 percent of average; so as Tibbitts has been saying, the county is in a hydrologic drought but not in a vegetative drought. Bugenig noted the farms in the Valley are making an extreme effort to cut back on water use to help stabilize water levels. Even with scattered data, Bugenig can see a slight decrease in the trend. The DNRPCA Moyle well on the north end of the playa showed an increase related to recharge. Commissioner Etchegaray’s well has stayed fairly constant during the irrigation season.

Efforts by farmers and December recharge seems to have been benefitting the aquifer as the rate of water level decline has abated showing Bugenig said what good water management practices can do to reduce the trend which is what the ground water management plan is about

The county has two generations of loggers with ten relatively new and “one here before I became engaged by the County” which had troubles with the battery on it. Bugenig ordered one out of his budget to replace it as he doesn’t want to lose spring-time monitoring data. Bugenig said, “I’m encouraged. To me, the data we’re seeing here” shows measures taken have “made a big difference.”

NEVADA HEALTH CENTERS

The Medical Clinics Advisory Committee Chairperson, Garney Damele, recommended regarding the current contract with Nevada Health Centers, Inc., “We are amenable to going down to two mid-levels” for the Eureka Clinic and recommended an addendum to the contract or “whatever is the best legal way” and want to see the penalty phase kept without a cap and the annual contract adjusted to reflect requiring two mid-levels and a decrease in the annual fee.

Rich McKay brought forward what a sample RFI might look like and the MCAC suggested if the Commissioners wish to go out and see what else is out there “this is a good way to do it.”

Karl Sundberg, COO of Nevada Health Centers, then came before the Commissioners who had all received the statement requested by the Commission at their last meeting. Sundberg related that a locums who started September 19th at the Eureka Clinic. He described her as “ER trained” and a “great lady” with experience in emergency and family practice. She will be available five days a week through March and her service can be extended which gives NHC time to recruit since even if they make an offer to an out-of-state provider it can take 60 days to process.

Julie Clyde, Director of Provider Relations, related that there is a full-time person at NHC who recruits for rural communities and NHC uses national firms for benchmarking to make sure their salaries and benefits are in-line. In addition they spend $10,000 a year to get on certain sites and use about 25 national sites free of charge to search across the country. In addition, they engage two recruitment firms at a cost of $15,000 each to have them search. Clyde said within the last year 60 candidates for Eureka were identified and, after vetting, 28 were viable candidates. Clyde said compensation was not the issue nor was housing or salary; rather the issue comes down to opportunities for their spouses and schools for their children. In addition, since 2013, NHC has recruited 13 providers to actually come and work Eureka and of those 3 were locums and they used 10 practitioners to come and help fill in. To give perspective in terms of locums costs, for the woman in Eureka now who is a physician’s assistant the net cost for two months excluding calls, five days a week, including lodging, will cost $43,587 which Clyde said is “pretty standard.” Clyde said that’s “not an excessive cost” with a going rate of $120 an hour.

Goicoechea asked about the service provider at the Crescent Valley Clinic, Niki Bain.

Sundberg related that the “challenge is she has a contract elsewhere” and they have been unable to secure anyone meaning the Clinic in Crescent Valley is open one to two days a week when she’s available.

Goicoechea said, “We’re paying you, whether it’s closed” and are “paying for services, frankly, we’re not getting. What do you expect us to do at this point? Scrap the contract” or “do an addendum? What do you want? The appetite is not here to pay for services we’re not getting.”

Sundberg said he’d be happy to go “back to our board and evaluate” and determine “where we can get to in a reduction and our pact on what we can accept and do in renegotiation of the contract.”

NHC in association with UNR has a residency program and are trying to do a rural medicine track and are working down the telemedicine route and are optimistic they will be doing that. They’ve started telemedicine in the Wendover clinic with behavioral services.

Sundberg said, “Gone are the days where communities are flush with physicians” and family care providers are limited.

NHC will come back with a dollar amount on January 3rd and Goicoechea stressed they need to get somebody in Crescent Valley to replace Nikki Bain.

Goicoechea said he’d “like to go out with a request for information” but does not want to see the clinics shut clinics down in Eureka over the $20,000 penalty phase and there has to be “some resolution.”

Beutel said, “It seems the only viable approach is” for NHC “to come back to the Board” and base the contract on what they can actually provide as “you’re in breach and we recognize it” which is “not a good position for contracting parties.”

Goicoechea agreed, “It’s not constructive” and “not good for employees or you guys.”

Eureka County Commissioners approved:

Dec. 6, 2016 meeting minutes;

Expenditures of $1,686536.20 including Yucca Mountain expenditures of $79.95, a pass through to the School District of $1,211,318.35, d of tax $31,025 to the Department of Taxation, tax, event tax, 32;

Authorizing Public Works staff to begin developing plans and specifications for the Summer 2017 Street Maintenance Program to be funded by the Regional Transportation Commission;

A 12-month extension to the contract with Above All Communications (dba Express Internet), LLC, which expires January 7, 2017;

Recommendations from the Auditor and Comptroller’s staff to implement procedures, effective for all departments, based on the audit findings which will address: grant reconciliation, ambulance receipts, and purchasing in compliance with the Internal Control Policy;

Response to recent BLM grazing decisions affecting Eureka County to be signed outside the meeting.