Town board petition falls short

Pahrump Town Board member Dr. Tom Waters’ effort to save the town board from dissolution has fallen short of its goal.

The process involved generating enough petition signatures to place a new ballot question before voters in November.

“We needed 2,639 signatures and we got just under 500.” Waters said on Monday. “Because of a legal issue, we had to start over and we only had a week to do it and it obviously deflated the drive that we already had going,” he said.

Waters said that the issue of time was one major factor that contributed to the petition shortfall.

He said judging from the response of many local residents, he believes that the town could have easily gathered enough signatures to allow voters to ultimately decide the town board’s fate.

“The 2012 ballot question passed by 231 votes and we got 500 people to say ‘let’s do it again.’ he said.

The lack of precedent was still another problem volunteers of the petition drive faced.

Waters said a dedicated group of individuals who assisted in the effort were not entirely familiar with a first-time petition drive to save the town board.

Though he did not use the word “failure,” he lamented that the fate of the town is now up to the community and the Board of County Commissioners.

“We were definitely novices because it was not something we have done before and obviously we didn’t know all of the Nevada Revised Statutes that went with it and that was crucial. I don’t think I’m going to try anything else at this point.”

Waters said those who serve on the town board do so without remuneration.

He believes the town’s employees are the ones who are paying the price levied when county commissioners decided they no longer wanted a town board form of government.

Some employees with families to support have been employed with the town for more than a decade.

Waters said he thinks the county has committed a grave disservice by its action.

“My main concern right now is the town staff and the expertise they have provided to the residents of Pahrump. Running a town is not something that you can just say ‘hey, we know how to do it.’ When the economy was in great shape several years back, the county was expanding because they had a larger workforce. The town did not do that so the town is still at the number they had when things were bad. When things really got worse, they couldn’t terminate anybody they didn’t have any excess and that’s the expertise that helps run the Town of Pahrump,” he said.

Additionally, Waters said he is confounded by the fact that a fringe group of residents are actively engaging in a recall of four town board members just five months before the entire board is dissolved, which could cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

Many of those individuals have clamored for years about unnecessary and wasteful local government spending.

“In my discussions with several residents, I remember that even the experienced “Recalls R Us” crowd had difficulty getting signatures against all of their causes and, even though they were out in force against Commissioner Butch Borasky and got questionable signatures, they still failed at getting him out of office. There is a current group attempting to get enough signatures to recall four of the five Town Board members and, if they get enough signatures, it will cost Nye County over $40,000 for a recall election,” he cautioned.

Waters noted that some residents have contacted him about their 2012 ballot question vote just to say they regretted their decision.

“So many people have said to me that they simply made a mistake. They told me they did not want to get rid of the elected town board. They didn’t at the time, like some of the town board members. They said they did something akin to shooting themselves in the foot. The main thing is the people want an elected town board,” Waters said.