Latest Lacy job title: Planning director

Darrell Lacy, who already wears hats as director of the Nye County nuclear waste project office and general manager of the county’s water district, will wear one more after officially being named planning director last week.

That led to a concern by County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman that Lacy might be wearing too many hats. He replaces former Planning Director Bobby Lewis, who was formerly development services director for Merced County, Calif., and a one-time Las Vegas planning supervisor, but was laid off in May, after only being hired in September 2013. That came at the same time Assistant County Manager Joni Eastley was given additional duties as comptroller to replace Susan Paprocki, who resigned abruptly.

Lacy was informally appointed planning director after Lewis departed, but District Attorney Brian Kunzi wanted his formal appointment pursuant to Nye County Code.

“The only caution that I would put on this is that once you get somebody wearing too many hats they cannot serve effectively for any of the hats,” Wichman said.

County Manager Pam Webster said his primary responsibility will be planning director.

Commissioner Frank Carbone wanted to discuss some of these concerns at a future meeting. Carbone said Lacy will have a full plate as planning director with the medical marijuana issue coming up.

“That concern has been brought up multiple times, but we haven’t found ways to change it because we don’t have money to hire anybody else,” Lacy said during a follow-up interview with the Pahrump Valley Times.

But Lacy said the loss of funding for the Yucca Mountain program and cutbacks in county staff due to declining property values during the recession required county staff to double up on duties, but it also greatly reduced the number of employees to supervise.

Lacy said his interim community development director position was phased out after Lewis was terminated, a position created by former County Manager Rick Osborne.

Lewis was originally hired as director of the Nuclear Waste Project Office in May 2007, but he said the Nuclear Waste Project Office has been downsized from 15 employees and 15 to 20 part-time contractors to two part-time workers who also work for the water district, Geoscience Manager Levi Kryder and Geoscience Technician II John Klenke. A secretary is working on a part-time basis as the department is being shut down, Lacy said.

The U.S. House of Representatives has discussed funding the Yucca Mountain project again, but it’s been shot down in the Senate under Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Lacy said unless things change on the political front in Washington, D.C., he doesn’t expect that to change. In the 2008-09 fiscal year, Nye County received $11.25 million in Payment Equal to Taxes for the Yucca Mountain project and $2.9 million in money for Yucca Mountain oversight contracts. That was before President Obama axed funding for the project. The last funding Nye County got from the Yucca Mountain project was $1.5 million in 2011, Lacy said.

Lacy was given the added title of general manager of the water district, which was authorized by the 2007 state Legislature. But Lacy said the water district doesn’t have any full-time employees either.

The water district budget for the year that began July 1 projects a beginning fund balance of $448,539, which will be reduced to only $10,855 by June 30, 2015. Lacy said they make funds available for buying water rights, but they may not be spent; the district allocated $150,000 to $200,000 for that purpose this year.

The planning department is about half the size it once was, Lacy said. He will supervise Principal Planner Steve Osborne, who had been planning director for two years after the departure of Jack Lohman in April 2010, planners Beth Lee and Cheryl Beeman, two technicians doing Geographic Information System (GIS) work, Qiana Medici in Pahrump and Kelly Harris in Tonopah, along with a secretary.

“On a short-term basis you can pretty much do anything; some things end up being priorities. We just don’t have the resources to do anything. Like here in planning, we eliminated our funding for code enforcement, yet people still expect code enforcement to be done,” Lacy said.

Code Compliance Officer and Floodplain Administrator George Bernath resigned in May 2013, Beeman picked up the floodplain duties, Kryder is now air quality control officer. At the same time, Ken Shockley resigned as director of veterans services and the state now operates that program.

When commissioners in May 2013 passed the budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year that just ended, there was a projected $888,343 deficit, pending a mid-year reorganization by the county manager. The county ended up with an estimated $225,448 general fund deficit according to figures published in a legal notice Friday. The reorganization included laying off six dispatchers, closing the Tonopah sheriff’s dispatch center outside of business hours and the Beatty dispatch center.

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