By Mark Waite
TONOPAH — The annual $50,000 renewal of a contract with Nye County Environmental Compliance Specialist Mary Ellen Giampaoli for work on the Pahrump landfill and county roads, was the subject of cross examination by Commissioner Butch Borasky Tuesday.
Nye County originally entered into a professional services agreement with Giampaoli on July 17, 2007 with annual renewal options that would be extended with this latest contract for another five years through June 30, 2017. But a motion by Nye County Commissioner Joni Eastley to renew the contract died for lack of a second.
Nye County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen suggested just a one year renewal.
Public Works Director Dave Fanning said Roger McRae, a geoscientist III with the Nye County Nuclear Waste Repository Project Office, a certified environmental manager, is being trained to do some of the work, to cut out some of the need for contracting.
But Fanning said McRae probably wouldn’t be brought up to speed in time to complete a five-year plan on the Pahrump regional landfill required to be submitted to the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection by 2013.
“I greatly appreciate what Mary Ellen and her staff have brought to the table over the years. I can’t say enough about it and I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t feel that way,” Fanning said.
Giampaoli provided help for Nye County acquiring U.S. Bureau of Land Management right-of-way for road work on Gamebird Road, in Calvada Valley Unit 14 and Barney Road, he said. That included desert tortoise surveys.
Giampaoli proposed a scope of work that included oversight of compliance at the Pahrump landfill along with collecting and reporting of permits.
She offered her services for compliance on Endangered Species Act permits at the county landfills and county roads, assistance preparing applications, reports and surveys for U.S. Bureau of Land Management right-of-ways, leases, grants and patents.
Borasky read off a list of questions that Eastley assumed were written by someone else; Borasky acknowledged half of them were.
He questioned a crossover with services provided by BEC Environmental, inquired about Giampaoli’s licenses from state boards, the lack of competitive bidding and outsourcing to a third party.
“Why can’t we put an RFP request for proposals out just for giggles to see if there’s somebody in the county that would want to do that job?” Borasky asked. “What I’m going after is to keep the tax money, to flush it back into the county to be spent here. That’s my whole intent of it, is to try to find a way to bring these individuals out.”
Borasky said in these hard economic times the county has to tighten its belt and try to award work in the local community. Giampaoli is from Blue Diamond.
Eastley defended Giampaoli and ridiculed Borasky’s claim he could find local consultants with the qualifications.
“I know there are some people on this board who have a personal dislike for this person, even though she’s done exemplary work for us over the years, in this particular contract, where she is monitoring the landfill, has been in place for a number of years and she’s done an outstanding job watching our backs for us,” she said.
Borasky thought the landfill operators could do the oversight work themselves.
Fanning said it’s self-assurance to make sure Southwest Environmental Services, operators of the Pahrump landfill and Pahrump Valley Disposal, are doing their job.
Borasky said Giampaoli and BEC Environmental are both cross listed on the Internet.
Eastley said BEC Environmental Principal Scientist Eileen Christensen started out as a subcontractor for Giampaoli on a Brownfields grant awarded to Nye County in 2010.
County commissioner Lorinda Wichman sided with Eastley. She said, “If you had an employee who was going to do just this, with all of the burden of benefits on top of that, I don’t think you’re going to have an employee with all the certification to do this contract for $50,000. Not only that, we’re asking staff every day to do more work with less help with the budgets we’re going through. In my opinion, contracts such as this, especially with a proven contractor we’ve used over the years, is absolutely the most responsible way to use the taxpayers’ money.”
Eastley likes the fact consultants don’t have termination clauses, benefits, unemployment insurance and belong to an employee collective bargaining unit.
But Schinhofen was concerned about the budget situation going into the next fiscal year. Eastley said Giampaoli’s contract would be paid out of the landfill fund.