By Mark Waite
Nye County Commissioner Gary Hollis said abolishing the elected Pahrump town board form of government wouldn’t mean a money grab by the county for use anywhere in the county, during a candidates’ forum at Artesia Community Center Thursday night.
Pahrump Town Board member Vicky Parker was asked why voters shouldn’t abolish the town board.
“If you do away with the town board, you’re going to lose your local representation. The town board would become merely an advisory board. They would be selected by the county commissioners,” Parker said.
She added, “All of the funds and resources would be given directly to the county and the county would be free to spend the tax dollars now collected in Pahrump and spent in Pahrump; they would be free to spend that money anywhere else in the county. So I think that you need to think seriously about keeping your money at home.”
Hollis said that’s a false statement.
“Let me assure you, the town board money does not go to Nye County, it stays in the town board’s account and all we do is OK their expenditures. We can’t use their money and we never used Beatty’s money; we never used Amargosa’s money,” Hollis said. Those two towns have advisory boards.
He didn’t answer a question from Margarie Hansen about why Amargosa Valley residents sought to have an elected town board with more autonomy from the county, other than to say any advisory board can ask the county for that status. That gave the Amargosa Valley Town Board the authority to make resolutions, ordinances and approve expenditures. Hollis said 99 percent of the time the county commission approves the requests from the town advisory boards.
Hollis said the county commission could deal with it no matter how people voted. “It’s always best if you put it on the ballot and let the people make a decision,” he said.
Pahrump Town Board candidate Amy Riches said she had mixed feelings about the ballot question.
“If the town board is dissolved you brought it on yourself when you took away the people’s right to talk before an agenda item and by spending people’s money recklessly. On the other hand there’s no guarantee that we’re going to like what the county commissioners do either,” she said.
Pahrump town board candidate Frank Maurizio said if the people voted for it he could live with it.
Parker said for the last seven months the town board has let people speak on individual agenda items, if they are brief, polite and refrain from personal attacks.
Robert Hansen, with the Progressive Democrats, said there were mistakes on the wording of the ballot question for passage. It erroneously states the town and county both manage animal control and police services, he said. There is wording suggesting duplication on management of trash collection, water and wastewater services.
Riches, Maurizio and Hollis admitted they hadn’t read the question.
Pahrump town board candidate Bill Dolan said he’s been working with a group that’s been trying to bring a green energy manufacturing plant here for the past 18 to 20 months. Every business that comes here will create one and a half jobs, he said. But Dolan was asked by Linda DeMeo about a meeting with State Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, she claims was an attempt to backdoor incorporation.
“My wife and I were on vacation in New York when I was told I was attending this meeting which I knew nothing about until I made some phone calls,” Dolan said. The town board had instructed Pahrump Town Manager Bill Kohbarger to prepare a bill draft request to the state Legislature allowing the town to take over planning and zoning, he said.
“I understand incorporation was talked about at that meeting,” Dolan said.
“I’m not for incorporation I’m not against it,” he said. “What I’m for is the freedom of speech to let people have their say at the ballot box.”
Maurizio said he’s against incorporation. “We can’t afford it, the taxpayers are footing the bill. We don’t have an industrial, commercial tax base that will carry it.”
Riches said, “we are not Las Vegas, we are not California, we are Pahrump. I am strongly against incorporation. I am strongly against any attempt to meter or tap our wells or to force anyone to hook up to any kind of city water or sewer.”
Parker didn’t address incorporation. But she said the town will be building a road, soccer fields and a parking lot at the fairgrounds site next month. After that the town will work on facilities at park property on Kellogg Road, Parker said.
Parker said she has also been working with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management since 2006 on Last Chance Park, which could preserve areas all the way up to Shadow Mountain as recreational land in posterity for our children and grandchildren.
Riches accused the town of paying hundreds of thousands to a company to design the fairgrounds project that is questionable and spending money on incorporation that people don’t want.
“Before I spend $844,000 on soccer fields I want to make sure that the doors to the bathroom stalls at Petrack Park, both inside the Bob Ruud Community Center and outside close the way they should because they don’t work now,” Riches said.
Parker said the money spent on the fairgrounds project is room tax money that can only be spent on bringing tourism into town.
Dolan said, “yes the town is looking at a fairgrounds project. I’m wholeheartedly for improving and bringing things to this town. However I don’t believe we should be biting the entire elephant in one bite without a secure revenue stream from private partners.”
Maurizio said, “I’m against theme parks, there’s three new ones being built in Las Vegas to be finished sometime next year. They’re not going to come an hour away to a theme park here.”
Parker said her other passion is watching out for people’s money. Together with Pahrump Town Board member Harley Kulkin and before that Dolan she said they went over every invoice.
“I can tell you when the town spends 29 cents for a screw at Home Depot. We watch your money, the town comes in under budget every year,” Parker said.
Cles Sanders asked about the town tax increase this year.
The town board received figures it would collect less in property taxes for 2012 when the budget was sent to the state, Parker said. She said the state calculates the tax rate to meet the same revenues and sends it back to the town board, what she called a static budget.
Hollis outlined his platform: promoting Yucca Mountain, not raising taxes, building county infrastructure and paving roads. He said 60 to 70 miles of road have been paved or chip sealed in his current district three.
“By resuming the Yucca Mountain project we would be saving approximately 7,000 new jobs that would be created in Southern Nevada,” Hollis said. He said Pahrump has the only training center for its volunteers, the multi-purpose training facility on East Mesquite Avenue.
Nancy Lord, a candidate for Fifth District Judge, asked Hollis about his abstention on ordinance 430, the animal control ordinance, which requires people with more than five dogs or cats to get a residential kennel license.
Hollis said he went to the bathroom when the vote was taken.
“I’m not in favor of putting limits on dogs and cats, but something has to be done,” he said. “If all the people were doing what they’re supposed to do, keeping their pets in the fence, spayed and neutered and so forth, we wouldn’t have to be making any laws.”
His opponent, Frank Carbone, wanted a waiver for animals of a certain age that wouldn’t be alive much longer. He said state law already dictates how many dog or cats a resident can have.