MEARS APPOINTED BUDGET DIRECTOR
With Mike Rebaleati, County Recorder/Auditor, having filed as a candidate for County Commissioner in the upcoming elections, and preparations underway to ensure that County financial matters are adequately managed when he leaves the post of Recorder/Auditor, the Commission considered the appointment of a Budget Director to be effective January 1, 2015 with the successful candidate to begin training under Rebaleati, the current Budget Officer, during the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 budget cycle. Rebaleati reported having received one letter of intent when the position was posted internally for the position from County Assessor, Mike Mears, and so the County Commissioners appointed the County Assessor as future Budget Director effective January 1, 2015.
NHP LOOKING FOR OFFICE SPACE
Lieutenant Fred Worcester of the Nevada Highway Patrol came before the Commission to discuss leasing office space in the Annex/Administration building for the local NHP officers to “have a place for our local officers to have a place to get out of the rain” and have a secure place to do reports and faxes in line with state requirements. In addition, Mike Podbourny of NDOW came before the Commission looking to lease office space in a County building for himself and the game warden and shared, “If there’s office space, we might be interested.” The District Attorney and Public Works Director will work with NHP and NDOW to create such accommodations and agreements.
“Everything is good at the Crescent Valley Senior Center,” Director Adell Panning reported. The CV Center had a meal count of 733, 38 a day for February “which is pretty outstanding. It’s back up again.” Panning said, “We served one more this go round than we did last month. Everything’s great.”
Millie Oram likewise said, “Everything is great” with the Eureka Senior Center serving 851 meals for the month, an average of 45 per day. The two Centers deposited $16,615.36 for the month which included receipt of monies from two grants. Oram expects to begin night dinners again in May.
Raymond Hodson, Road Supervisor, reported, “We spent most of the month on the 3 Bars Project” with blading remaining to be done. Trucks have been moved back to Diamond Valley and with all the recent rains, the crew has been dealing with flooding. “Everyone attended the CPR class.” The blade has been moved back to the JD Road with water to be supplied by Barrick. The North End spent a few days hauling on the Geyser Road, are blading on the Grass Valley Road, likewise with water support from Barrick Gold. “The traffic has picked up on the JD Road” with drill rigs but Hodson expects when Barrick’s man camp opens, the traffic will lessen.
PUBLIC WORKS UPDATE
Public Works Director Ron Damele reported that he and staff have been spending time with the County Engineer reviewing plans for the Robin Street project with a walk-through on Tuesday and has been working with staff on the PW budget and “working through the buildings. I will tell you that it’s really difficult to hold the line on buildings” without adjusting the time buildings are in use. “We have to keep the lights on.”
Damele is getting an early start with NDF to get ready for fire season. “There will be probably three or four wild land refresher courses in the spring.”
HVAC proposals for the courthouse will be reviewed next week. “It will be a two part process. We’ll give them the scope; enter into a contract with them to design it” which will lead to a price at which point it will come before the Commissioners for approval. Damele expects the process will take close to 60 days.
Regarding the Robins Street Improvements & Utility Upgrades Project, County Engineer Tom Young of Lumos & Associates will incorporate comments from the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water with plans to be completed in two weeks and negotiations for the guaranteed maximum price to take place at the second meeting in April. Public Works Director Damele alerted the Board that the CMAR’s Independent Cost Estimator [ICE] will cost “us some money, but we’re going to work very hard.” The ICE becomes involved if there’s a big gap between what Lumos and Legacy think the project will cost. Damele and Young don’t expect having to do that based on their past relationship with Legacy on the Springs project.
Natural Resources Manager, Jake Tibbitts, turned the Commission’s attention to President Obama’s budget request for the Department of the Interior because the DOI’s BLM and Fish and Wildlife Service budget “has a lot of bearing” on Eureka County. Tibbitts pointed out that the proposal to put $900 million in the Conservation Fund, would double current federal funding to purchase additional lands. “Increasing the federal land holding while continuing to not properly manage the land currently in their portfolio just doesn’t seem like the right move. Of that $900 million, $80 million is designated for the BLM/Fish and Wildlife Service specifically for buying more land for wildlife purposes.”
Tibbitts said a positive aspect of the Administration’s proposal entails ‘off budget emergency funding’ which would help with wildfire costs. He also noted Wild Horse and Burro funding is proposed to increase by $3 million in addition to the $77 million which largely goes to purchasing hay. “The budget proposes to charter the ‘National BLM Foundation’” to “leverage private funding for habitat work.”
Tibbitts said, “There’s been legislative proposals put forward the last few years to try to amend the Hard Rock Mining laws” and instead of going through the Congressional budget process “to bring common sense reforms to mining law,” the Administration is proposing changing Hard Rock Mining to a lease royalty system rather than the current claims/patent system, similar to oil and gas, where tracts of lands would go out for bid and then pay royalties rather than persons having an opportunity to claim and patent lands. Tibbitts noted there is also proposed a hard rock gross mining royalty of not less than 5% of an operation’s gross revenues, not net revenues; and would have an additional fee on new hard rock mining to fund abandoned mine clean-up to which the new mines would have no connection to. In addition, there is a proposal for an additional $1 per AUM administrative fee, increasing the current AUM fee by 17%.
Tibbitts is also concerned that the Administration is tampering with the $1.6 billion bi-partisan compromise Farm Bill passed in February which created mandatory spending but through the Administration’s Budget would cut the Farm Bill’s spending and reduce the Farm Bill to $1.3 billion with reductions in conservation programs. “The large majority of the cuts are to EQUIP” which is virtually all of the money put on the ground in Nevada and which is allocated to livestock producers. The Sage Grouse funding for the state is proposed to be cut as it’s administered under EQUIP. “It shows to me that there is a very purposeful targeting of programs that benefit the livestock industry and that worries me.” Tibbitts said, “That will have major impacts.”
Tibbitts brought to the Commission’s attention HR 2804 which recently passed the House of Representatives restricting Endangered Species Act settlements. “This bill did pass the House” and “is a very positive thing that would remove arbitrary court deadlines.”
Tibbitts also commented on a recent Battle Mountain BLM District letter on drought which asks for voluntary reductions by permittees which Tibbitts characterized as “arbitrary.” Tibbitts said, “They’re not going to make full-blown determinations” until the month of May. “You can be prepared but you make the decisions in May or June.”
UNCE 4-H PROGRAM NEW ASSISTANT
Dr. Fred Steinmann, Extension Educator, introduced Hallee Wilker, recently hired as the UNCE 4-H Program Assistant in Eureka County, to the Commission. Steinmann thanked Mike Rebaleati for help in the hiring process, ensuring proper County protocols were followed and Dr. Steinmann related that 3 persons applied for the position, and Wilker was selected “because of her strong balance between administrative experience and youth development. Some of her past volunteer work experience includes with the University of Nevada’s Gund Ranch, Barrick Ruby Hill Mine as well as the Eureka County School District.” Steinmann sees Wilker’s experience as strengthening the 4-H Coordinator position moving forward. Wilker has been with the program for four weeks and recently attended the 4H Speakers’ Forum in Winnemucca where she learned more about 4H and met her counterparts from other counties. “Our goal for 4H is to continue to grow and diversity the Eureka County 4H program.” Finally, Steinmann invited the Commissioners to attend the 4H Achievement Night, which includes a spaghetti dinner, scheduled for Thursday, March 13 at 7 p.m. at the Opera House.
Eureka Commissioners approved:
• Expenditures of $1,640,511.92, which includes Payroll of $405,556.17 and a Pass Through to the School District for taxes collected of $919,869.50 as well as Yucca Mountain expenditures of $6,000.71;
• The Eureka County Television District Site License Agreement & Outbuilding Easement granted by Eureka County between MDW Pan LLP (Midway Gold), the Television District and Eureka County;
• Retaining the Elko law firm of Marvel & Marvel, Ltd. to: review the loan proposals regarding the Nevada Rural Housing Authority debt repayment to Eureka County; confirm the current status of the documentation filed to secure the repayment of the debt; and prepare documentation for the repayment of funds used to develop the Eureka Canyon Subdivision;
• Appointing Karen Rowley to the ECEDP two year seat vacancy, per recommendation of the ECEDP Board and appointing Diane Wise as the alternate for the County’s south end;
• The resignation of Betsy Barker from the Recreation Board;
• Appointing Lola Sanders of the Sundown Lodge as the hotel/motel industry representative on the Recreation Board
• Re-submitting to federal land management agencies a draft proposed Memorandum of Understanding establishing a protocol for coordination;
• Authorizing the contract with The Washoe County Sheriff’s Days Office Forensic Science Division for forensic services for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 at a cost of $3,000 with the cost for death investigation lab work to be paid through the normal budgeting process;
• To close the Beowawe branch library to capture a savings of $9800 in administrative costs and an additional $9800 in utilities to reduce the Library System contract for Fiscal Year 2014-2015.