In discussing the 2015 budget, County Recorder/Auditor Mike Rebaleati noted the summary of revenues of $11,662,000 while the budgeted expenditures are $11,650,000 reflecting a balanced budget without net proceeds. Rebaleati will be meeting with department heads in July to explain changes in their budgets. Rebaleati noted there are no intergovernmental expense and no transfers out as basically “all the projects basically don’t exist.”
Chairman Goicoechea thanked Rebaleati for his work to get a balanced budget.
Rebaleati said the changes are “not anything anybody can’t live with” and reflect “trimming and cutting back as much as we possibly can.”
“Get used to this folks: this is the way it’s going to be for the foreseeable future and probably a little bit tighter,” said the Chairman.
Rebaleati and the Commission discussed possibly introducing a bill draft request related to returning to a post payment process for net proceeds rather than a pre-payment system.
COMMISSION AGREES TO SELL RAINES LLC. PROPERTY FOR $8,000 AN ACRE OR $61,440
The Commission amended the Board’s resolution of April 21 and adopted an amended resolution consistent with the Board’s direction of May 19, that states the property, APN 001-221-08, shall be sold for $8,000 per acre.
At their meeting May 19, the Board set a time of 11 a.m. on June 6th to request, receive, and consider public comment regarding the fair market value of the 7.68 acres, more or less, described with more particularity as PARCEL A on Document 0220732 filed July 2, 2012, as an official record of the Eureka County Recorder and depicted on sheets 3 and 6 of 9, Assessor’s Parcel Number 001-221-08. The hearing was set after the Board received two appraisal reports that set the value of the property at different prices: $40,000.00 and $154,000.00. The Board had resolved to sell this property to Raines LLC, a limited liability company with managing members Lee A. Raine, Scott F. Raine, and Sylvia A. Raine, and declared their intent to sell the property for $8,000.00 per acre, for a total of $61,440 ($8,000.00 per acre for 7.68 acres) setting the sales price of APN 001-221-08 at $61,440. With no public comment at the hearing, the board affirmed the price of $61,440 and approved executing the Purchase Agreement and opening escrow for the property sale.
CRESCENT VALLEY TOWN CENTER OFFICES TO BE OPEN ONLY TWO DAYS A WEEK
In discussing recent employee retirement vacancies in the Public Works Department, Public Works Director Ron Damele started by saying, “We get the message on the condition the County’s in with the budget” and said “we have it figured out.” Damele noted that Public Works in 1993 the Road Department and shop had 14 full time employees and by July 1, 2014 “we have the opportunity to get down to 13.” Damele noted that in 1993 Public Works did not oversee Crescent Valley, the Eureka swimming pool or the landfill. Damele said, “Currently two folks are retiring from the road department, and we are proposing and suggesting strongly that do not replace those two employees.” Damele believes there will “be a reduction in service” and a “delay in service” which he doesn’t “think will be long,” noting that “any time you lose employees that operate equipment or maintain utility systems, you’re going to feel it.” Damele said, “The last thing I want to do is hire a replacement and then in a year or two be forced to lay them off.”
In addition, with the retirement of 20-year full-time employee, Vicki Drenon, Public Works Senior Administrative Assistant in December of 2014, Damele plans to not replace Drenon who interacts with the public at the Town Center and answers questions related to the operation of the town, garbage, internet and any other questions and has been the ‘face’ of Crescent Valley government for two decades. Damele characterized many of Drenon’s services as “not really part of the essential function of Public Works” and Damele plans to reduce staffing “without affecting the operation and maintenance of the water system” by relying on the two current certified operators to maintain the water system and moving essential job functions to the Eureka Public Works office such as vouchers, and water bills with Damele requesting the County Assessor/Recorder to have a shared part-time person to help at the beginning of the month. Crescent Valley has 905 active water accounts with 590 generating bills. Damele said he has talked it over with staff and said, “We will take care of that,” acknowledging it will “be a little bit stressful,” but said Public Works will “take care of it fine.”
In order to have an immediate supervisor over Crescent Valley to support the operation and maintenance of the water system, buildings and the park, Damele said there has “been a lot of discussion on how do that without hiring a new person” while putting in place someone who understands the systems operations for Crescent Valley and determined that effective immediately there will be a transition with Ray Hodson, County Road Superintendent, to be the supervisor in charge of the Crescent Valley town and maintenance over the roads. He will be supported on the utility side by the utility supervisor and by the building maintenance supervisor and staff in conjunction with Kim Todd and Damele.
Damele said, “We absolutely do not want to slam the door shut on the Public Works office” in the Crescent Valley Town Center and is proposing to have the Town Center Public Works office open Tuesdays and Thursdays each week from 10 to 2 with existing staff or with casual non-benefitted staff “for folks who want to pay bills or who have questions about happenings in town.” Damele encouraged the Crescent Valley public to utilize the on-line bill pay method, but said “there will be somebody in the office 2 days a week to handle cash payments,” noting there “is already a drop box.” Damele said the Undersheriff has confirmed the Sheriff’s Department “will be happy to be a courier” and will deliver “payments down here and posted in a timely manner.”
Damele characterized Drenon’s retirement as the “perfect time for us to get where we need to be” in a time when “budget and revenue is so uncertain.” Damele insisted that not replacing Drenon “will not effect the health and safety of the public” as the people who operate the town systems will remain in place and Damele has no intention of making changes there. “Everybody will feel the delayed response,” but Damele said he is “trying to reallocate personnel and resources so not everybody feels a lot.” Damele acknowledged that there will be “kinks” and that the Commissioners will “get calls” and said, “Things are not going to be the same. They can’t be the same” with “$12 million out of the budget, something’s got to give.” In another cost saving measure, Damele related that County Engineer, Tom Young of Lumos and Associates, will not be travelling to Eureka for Commission meetings unless needed.
BLM DENIAL OF WATER HAULING
In considering a response regarding what the County characterizes as “faulty BLM grazing decisions affecting Eureka County and County grazing permittees, including but not limited to misuse of the US Drought Monitor and arbitrary denial of water hauling,” County Natural Resources Manager, Jake Tibbitts in drafting a letter to the BLM for the Board to consider that following a recent meeting with the State BLM Director in which a lot of issues were vetted directly that they were asked to address issues without a “letter writing campaign,” but that NRAC voted to have a letter sent writing out the issues of the drought meeting. Tibbitts said an “issue cropped up at the NRAC meeting” of a “member who’s also a grazing permittee trying to get water hauling sites to haul water to water the cows.” Tibbitts noted the “best tool available to manage cows in Nevada is water” which keeps cows from camping out on riparian areas. While the BLM said in an environmental assessment that it will allow water hauls, when the permittee went out to look at water sites, a BLM representative said that based on an agreement with Western Watersheds that “wherever there’s intact native vegetation” the permittee won’t be able to put a water hole there.” Tibbitts noted there are ‘very few places where you won’t find native species.” NRAC wants to “learn what that’s all about.”
Chairman Goicoechea characterized the issue as “about the control. They’re not looking to make this work.”
District Attorney Beutel questioned the rationale behind the BLM asking for no letters since letters memorialize conversations and agreements in writing.
Commissioner Ithurralde felt the hauling water issue “needs to be answered” and said since
“the grazer’s been told that,” he made a motion to have a letter written by Tibbitts to the BLM with the Chairman authorized to sign the letter outside the meeting.
Chairman Goicoechea noted he has met with Doug Furtado, BLM Battle Mountain District Manager, twice in the past two weeks and felt Eureka County has “to keep the pressure on.” Goicoechea said, “They’re getting pressure from every side. We need to keep the pressure on.”
With that the Commission voted to send a letter.
In considering a strategy for action on the BLM’s failure to properly manage wild horses affecting Eureka County, Tibbitts noted that the BLM has said that all gathers have to be approved at the national level and that if the District Manager or State Director want to do a gather, they have to go to the national level. The total planned gather number is 300 total horses, while in Eureka there are 3,000 horses over the appropriate levels.
Chairman Goicoechea joked, “Those 300 horses were born last week.”
Tibbitts said, “Of the 300 they’re going to gather, priority will go to court orders and emergency situations.” The government is losing some long-term holding facilities as some contractors are choosing to go back to grazing cows as the current national cattle inventory is low and purveyors can make more money running cows than BLM horses and have told the BLM to come get their horses now. The BLM is soliciting for new short-term holding facilities.
Tibbitts noted the Etcheverries’ private lands on Roberts Mountain are overrun with wild horses and that even in areas where there have been no cattle on the south end of Roberts Mountain “it looks like this table” and “would disgust you.” Tibbitts noted that under the Wild Horse and Burro Act and case law, the BLM and DOI “’shall immediately remove the horses from the private land.’” The property owner “can’t just shoo them off, but that’s the catch 22” as the “judge determined” the property owner “has to notify them every time.” Tibbitts suggested the Board “reach out to private land owners having issues with wild horses” who “don’t know the tools, don’t know they have to notify the BLM” and help facilitate notification to the BLM and DOI coming from the private landowners.
In addition, Tibbitts and the Commission concurred to continue supporting NACO’s Wild Horse lawsuit preparation and to continue to assist in funding that lawsuit using Natural Resources monies from the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.
Chairman Goicoechea noted that the State BLM Director related that the estimated cost to house a wild horse for its lifetime is $45,000 per horse with over 50,000 horses in long-term housing.
Eureka County Commissioners approved:
• Accepting the proposed Fiscal Year 2015 Eureka County Work Program and Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, as presented by NDOT’;
• Ratifying the grant application to the Nevada Aging & Disability Services Division for Nutrition Grant #07-000-04-24-14 for home-delivered meals in the amount of $22,659 with a County match of $3,255 and an application to Nevada Aging & Disability Services Division for Nutrition Grant #07-000-07-13-14 for congregate meals in the amount of $17,043.00 with a County match of $1,733;
• Directing department heads and supervisors to implement usage of the Eureka County Medical Clinic Service Request Form, effective July 1, 2014, when ordering services for employees and volunteers at the clinics managed by Nevada Health Centers, Inc.;
• Appointing Nona Kellerman as the Crescent Valley Representative, Melissa Fitzwater as a clinic user; John Brown and Bob Stephenson as community members and Commissioner Ithurralde as Commission liaison to the Medical Clinics Advisory Committee effective July 1, 2014;
• An application for a new commercial water service for the Eureka County School District located at 200 Adams Street (amphitheater sprinklers);
• A proposal from Building Control Services, Inc., for design services relating to the Courthouse HVAC Remodel Project, not to exceed $23,805.00;
• Following a review of the property map generated by the County Assessor, and consideration of final approval for collection of soil data on certain Eureka County owned properties the Commission approved signing a revised Access Agreement;
• A proposal from Building Control Services, Inc., for design services relating to the Courthouse HVAC Remodel Project, not to exceed $23,805,
• Augmenting the Public Works Fiscal Year 2014-2015 budget to include $45,400 for design and construction assistance for the Airport Lighting Retrofit Project, with $43,130of the amount to be reimbursed through an FAA grant with the entire project expenses for the County, including construction cost, to amount to $13,245;
• Accepting the renewal proposal from the Nevada Public Agency Insurance Pool, and approving payment from Fiscal Year 2014-2015 funds;
• The Mutual Aid Memorandum of Understanding between the White Pine County Fire Protection District and the Eureka County Fire Protection District;
• The appointment of Paul Etzler to NRAC as the recreation representative;
• Writing a letter addressing ravens as a major predator threat to wildlife and livestock, including a request to remove ravens from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.