Town to draft suggestions for transition to county rule

Pahrump officials want their county counterparts to know one thing: “We are here and we are listening.”

Town board members agreed this month to begin planning for the transition from town to county rule even as efforts continue to thwart the action.

Board members voted to direct staff to draft a letter to county officials with suggestions for a smooth transition.

Board member Dr. Tom Waters said he would prefer to keep the lines of communication open by simply letting commissioners know that both the board and staff are available to provide any information county officials will need to accomplish the goal.

“That’s basically what we need to do. I don’t think we need to go into what the ballot question said or any other legal issues. We are just directing staff to work with the county on the transition,” he said.

Vice Chair Bill Dolan agreed with Waters’ position, while adding county officials appeared to be dragging their feet when it came to actually addressing the matter.

“I am glad this was put back on the agenda, especially after it was pulled at the last couple of county commission meetings against the town and their blatant disregard to want to work with staff now. I feel there needs to be a motion made from this board directing our staff to sit down with the county management team and get something moving,” he said.

Board Chair Harley Kulkin’s main concern fell on the town’s staff, who he said are concerned about keeping their jobs.

Roughly a dozen staff positions may be in question at the town office.

“I would like to know what the county’s intentions are because we have employees who work for the town and they certainly would like to know what their future is. We have six months to negotiate in the best interests of our staff so I’d like to know what their intentions are. That’s my priority,” he said.

Town Manager Susan Holecheck said the action is necessary if both entities want to maintain a seamless transition.

“I’d be happy to draft a letter and I’m more than willing to share it with you. I think it’s good to make it official. We’re saying we’re here, we’re available and let us know,” she said.

Additionally, town officials were puzzled last month after county officials refused to evaluate a sales tax revenue proposal that would have increased funding for the town’s fire department.

The proposal included replacing two older pumper trucks with two refurbished trucks using the sales tax revenue.

The cost is not expected to exceed $380,000.

Holecheck said at the same time, county officials approved a measure to fund a $1 million Brownfields Assessment grant for the five-county Rural Desert Southwest Brownfields Coalition awarded in 2011.

“County commissioners approved that even though there was no funding, but oddly enough with the sales tax, the reason why they said they didn’t accept the town’s sales tax proposal was because the money hadn’t come in yet. That doesn’t seem to be any different than what they approved with the Brownfields. It’s the same thing. We’re just letting them know how we were going to spend the money. We weren’t asking for the money right now,” she said.

Holecheck also addressed concerns about the squandering of town funds roughly seven months before the disbanding of the body.

She said nothing could be further from the truth.

“Unlike what I am hearing out in the community, we cannot do that. We have an obligation to stay within budget. Are we spending money? Yes, but we did not spend money for years because of the recession. Now there’s equipment that needs to be replaced and everything else. I know that the timing couldn’t be more unfortunate but we are not trying to bankrupt the town,” she said.

In a bit of positive news, Holecheck said the sales tax item is being revisited during this week’s commissioners’ meeting after what she termed was “a very fruitful meeting with one of the county commissioners” this month.

Meanwhile, town board members have until June 27 to collect more than 2,600 signatures in order have a new question deciding the board’s future placed on the November general election ballot.