COMMISSION CHANGES COURSE ON SELLING PROPERTY TO RAINES AT HIGHEST APPRAISED VALUE

Having previously resolved to sell a piece of property to Scott Raine and Raines LLC at the highest appraised value and having received widely disparate appraisals of the property, the Eureka County Commission decided to change course and hold a public hearing on having a sale price below the highest appraised value. 

The District Attorney noted that initially the appraisals were sought because it would be a public sale at auction; then a captured sale was considered; and then a sale of property for economic development and noted, “When you passed the resolution that brought us here today that resolution does say that it would be sold for the highest appraised value” and noted that the Commission is not required to do that “but will probably get egg on your face which is a nice way of saying the public expects you to do what you say you’re going to do; so what you would need to do if you’re wishing to change that direction again; and I’m not trying to overly complicate this because what I’m about to say sucks; you’ve got to amend the resolution and if you wish to just set a number you probably should” have “a public hearing on what that dollar amount is going to be; and you set that dollar amount and then you’re able to enter into the purchase agreement.”

“But right now as it stands the resolution that you did pass back in April says that you will set that value at the highest appraised value. I would offer something, and this is inevitable anytime you pay somebody to do an appraisal for you, and that’s especially true when you’re in a market where there’s not a lot of activity. We’re not in a hot real estate market where there’s a lot of comparables and you can actually make a distinguishing determination on market value versus listing price. Because clearly with a hot market listing, price can come very close to the market value so it’s very difficult for an appraiser to come into any town that’s cold like this town and come up with a dollar amount; but that’s exactly why the law describes the process of hiring that third party” because “they’re professionally required to give their best opinion; but it’s up to you guys what you want to do and how you want to do.”

“And we have a hard time getting appraisals done. Period. There’s not a lot of interest in coming to Eureka and doing an appraisal,” Chairman Goicoechea said.

“If I could say I am opposed to that appraised value of $154,000. It seems very excessive. If we could do something else,” said Commissioner Sharkozy.

Goicoechea noted, “There’s something wrong with these numbers: they’re too far apart, but we passed a resolution that said that’s what we were going to do. Later on today, I hope to propose a resolution that doesn’t deal with anything that has to do with this; but that’s a resolution that I plan to stick to and I don’t want to start running backwards from resolutions; so whatever we do I want to make sure that we’re not running backwards from a decision that we made and a resolution that we did. There are going to be some tough decisions coming ahead, a hell of a lot tougher than this and we need to start making some decisions and start sticking to them. I understand there’s a problem here. So, however we go about this, let’s not emasculate this board in doing it. I’m open to ideas. I had not seen these; I had not looked at how they had come up with any dollar amounts until now” and “am just as much of a loss and a shock I guess probably as anybody, but I need to know what we want to do.”

The District Attorney recommended passing another resolution since the Commission’s going contrary to the resolution they publicly published previously and “that doesn’t bode well for credibility going forward; another way of saying ‘egg on your face.’”

“Does it, or does it say that maybe we saw the error of our ways previous?” Commissioner Sharkozy asked.

“Well, if you’re instructing me to create another resolution, I will try to make the opinions match up as much as possible.”

“Well, I’m willing to do another resolution because I’m not happy with these appraisals,” said Ithurralde.

“I agree,” said Sharkozy.

Sylvia Raine expressed, “Mr. Chairman, we don’t ask for nothing much. I ask for a lot. I do not ask for only just for Raines; I ask for the whole town to get better grocery store for the whole town. And Mr. Ithurralde, you ask for the higher price. You got your resolution up there.”

Scott Raine said, “A couple of things we’ve been discussing and I’ve been beat over the head here recently by a civil engineer on this property. There’s somewhere in the realm of two acres of this property that’s useless” and rather are looking at 5 acres marginally big enough and “will appreciate the most reasonable price” with close to $42 to $47,000 in remediation costs involved. “As long as we’re reasonable, and Mr. Mears knows what’s reasonable more than I do.”

The Chairman said, “Hind sight’s 20/20. Nobody here is saying we don’t want to sell this to you. You know how it looks when you adopt a policy and now you wiggle in it. You’ve been there on the Wildlife Commission. How many times did you have to wiggle?”

“Used to try to wiggle earlier on; you had to wiggle much less later,” Raine said.

Sylvia Raine said, “You guys have the power and I believe in you guys.”

“I’d like to put it at $8,000 an acre. That’s $61,440. Or we could go to $70,000. That would be $9,114.”

“So, what you’re proposing for Ted [Beutel] to be clear, Jim, is do a new resolution but we would most likely have to have a public hearing as part of that,” Goicoechea said.

“Yes, and I’m willing to take egg in the face because I can’t accept those appraisals.” Ithurralde made a motion seconded by Chairman Sharkozy to propose a new resolution and set a public hearing for a sale price of $8,000 an acre. 

The District Attorney said, “You can have the resolution considered and have a public hearing at the same meeting” as early as June 6th. 

Chairman Goicoechea said, “I want this project to go forward. And, I’m going to say again, I’m a man of my word and we’re only as good as our word. I can’t help it if sometimes things come out maybe a little different than we thought. I don’t like running backwards but that’s where we’re at.”

On voting on a new resolution establishing the purchase price at $8,000 an acre for a public hearing on the 6th at 11 a.m., Sharokozy and Ithurralde voted in favor and Goicoechea voted ‘no’ not because he’s opposed to the project but because “I can’t run backwards.” With that the Commission took a five minute break.

NDEP/EPA DISCUSSION REGARDING SOIL SAMPLING OF COUNTY PROPERTIES

With Greg Lovato of NDEP participating by teleconference, and Tom Dunkelman of the EPA present, the Commission considered recommendations for soil sampling on certain Eureka County-owned properties related to lead and mercury contamination. Dunkelman started by noting that at the last meeting the County agreed to provide sampling previously done. Dunkelman said they looked through the report and the data related to the Eureka Canyon Subdivision and the Fairgrounds “looked very good: the arsenic and lead levels were very low so we’re comfortable with that data there. We don’t see a need for us to do additional sampling there.” Dunkelman said they looked at the data from the park off Buel Street and the two ballparks and said “there were a few kind of moderate levels of lead and arsenic found there” with only one sampling done per acre. “It would be our recommendation that a little tighter sampling grid be performed at the Eureka Park and at the ballparks.” Dunkelman said the fields “looked fine” but there are outer areas on  which the EPA would like to perform sampling.  

The Chairman noted that the grass coverage mitigated exposure as long as the grass is intact.

Dunkelman said, “We’re looking for long-term solutions and you can’t always guarantee that that grass will be maintained. It’s definitely a mitigating factor. It’s something that helps. We’re looking sort of longer term.”

“I guarantee we maintain the grasses forever. We’ve been doing it for a hundred years, that park,” Ithurralde said.

“If we have our way we’ll graze it once in a while but that would be it,” joked the Chairman.

Lovato said, “Looking forward we want to come up with a path to ensure that it remains that way.” Lovato said, “Come up with a plan to deal with it long-term and document it some way.”

Ithurralde asked if hot spots are found what do the agencies want the County to do?

Dunkelman said the EECA will look at that and hopefully the EPA can come up with funding to address that. “The ball fields themselves, the sample results looked good. There were a couple of areas because they were only sampling one time per acre that they didn’t get like at the softball field where the kids play t-ball. There were no samples collected in the dug-out area and other dirt areas where it’s clear there are kids playing. That’s just an example.”

Ithurralde said all new soil was brought in there.

“We did go through the complete list of County properties that had not been sampled” and gave a “hard look at what needed to be sampled” looking at areas where children play and vacant properties close to the school. “We came out with, I think, a dozen properties.” 

The County will prepare a detailed map of County properties to be agreed upon with NDEP/EPA by June 6th. 

Chairman Goicoechea said people have expressed concern over what agencies are involved with the EPA testing and asked if the U.S. Coast Guard is in Eureka testing.

Dunkelman said, “Basically, we have a crew of people here; it’s usually one or two people from EPA. We rely heavily on contractors” including Environmental Quality Management who are doing the dirt work and Ecology and Environment who are doing the soil testing and the third entity is the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team which is the HAZMAT division of the Coast Guard. “The Coast Guard is basically here as skilled labor to help our sampling team. The military works cheaper than contractors.”

“Is the United States Coast Guard part of the Department of Homeland Security. They are coming under the auspices of DHS?” Sheriff Jones asked. “So, they are a quasi-military organization.”

“They’re here providing technical, environmental support to EPA. They don’t carry weapons,” Dunkelman said.

“Way to dodge a question, Sir,” Jones retorted.

Lovato said, “I would kind of look at it as the guys out there are skilled labor. They’re cheaper than hiring more contractors. They’re working at EPA’s direction in cooperation with us. They’re basically just sampling soil” and “are a shared labor resource.”

Goicoechea noted, “A heads-up and a courtesy call along lines like this would be greatly appreciated.”

“I feel another IRS audit coming on,” said Jones.

Ithurralde asked the EPA and NDEP to review the plan related to the land planned for sale to the Raines which was agreed upon.

Eureka County Commissioners approved:

The recommendations from the Medical Clinics Advisory Committee related to the contract with Nevada Health Centers for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 and accepting the contract as presented at a cost not to exceed $778,500 or $64,875 per month;

Signing a one-year Lease Agreement beginning July 1, 2014, with Nevada Health Centers, Inc., for housing located at 351 and 381 Well Street in Eureka;

Adopting a resolution honoring long-time Eureka County employee, John Minoletti;

Signing a 5 year lease with the Eureka Veterinary Clinic, LLC, for the property located at 180 South Main Street in Eureka at a cost of $100 a month; 

Adopting tax rates for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 with no tax increases proposed by the Eureka County Board of Commissioners;

Setting the base rates, including dependent subsidies, on the selected plans for health insurance premiums for benefited employees for Fiscal Year 2014-2015;

Setting the rates for the retiree health insurance subsidies for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 with no changes.