Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo campaigned on a platform of public communication and transparency, and to this end, he held his first town hall-style meeting and invited the public.
A large crowd of over 120 residents showed up March 29 to hear about what has been accomplished by the Nye County Commission in Blundo’s first three months of office and pose questions to the District 4 commissioner.
Hosted at the Valley Conference Center, the meeting started off at 6 p.m. with refreshments before everyone settled in for the hour of discussion. Blundo began by giving attendees an overview of some of what he considered to have been critical actions taken by the county since the start of 2019.
“We discussed the county treasurer, that was a critical vote right out of the gate. So imagine just freshly being elected, your first meeting… you have to make a critical decision, who is going to serve the entire county as county treasurer. We’ve all read in the newspapers, they have had a lot of issues, a lot of turnover,” Blundo stated.
Ultimately, John Prudhont had been selected to hold the post for the next two years. “What are we at, John? About three and a half months in, roughly? And we have our first bank reconciliation report and again, I think that is an accomplishment and that needs to be acknowledged,” Blundo commented.
He then moved into the topic of Karl Mitchell and his tigers, which he keeps at his home in the Pahrump Valley. Mitchell had been struggling with the permitting required to legally have the exotic cats, and that recently came to a conclusion, although narrowly.
After two consecutive tie votes this past February, Blundo said he took into consideration each point of view and was able to put forward a motion that finally did pass, 3-1.
“I’ve never seen such uproar over somebody who has tigers,” Blundo said, later explaining his reason for voting in favor of allowing Mitchell the permits to keep his animals. “I don’t believe that the government has the right to take from people. It is the seizure of your assets, the taking of your personal property and I do not believe in that.”
Moving into another contentious topic, Blundo broached the subject of taxes. He specifically honed in on a proposed diesel tax increase that is before the Nevada Legislature and the five cent gas tax increase passed by the Nye County Commission several years ago.
“How many people are happy that their potholes are getting filled? How many people are happy we’ve accomplished five road projects?” Blundo asked. “Do you know how that was funded?”
The answer was “taxes” with Blundo emphasizing that it was the gas tax that funded the projects.
“That diesel tax, it’s a nickel a gallon and how many of those big trucks drive through Nye County? I know I’m looking at you when I say yeah, it’s a nickel out of your pocket. It’s a nickel that I’m already paying (for the gas tax) and many of your neighbors are already paying.
“But ask yourself, is that nickel worth it when you have those big trucks driving through and they fill up 100-200 gallons at a time? How much money are we losing right there?… Just food for thought.
“I’m the first one to say no to a tax but I am also the first one to say, here is your option,” Blundo continued of his stance on the proposed diesel tax increase.
“You want the roads fixed. We are spending the money as fiscally responsible as possible. If you want more projects to be done though, then I need the nickel. We have to balance it out.”
Blundo said it was also important to look into other methods outside of local taxes to fund road projects in the county.
Highlighting his recent trip to Washington D.C., Blundo remarked that he was able to discuss a proposed bill before Congress, H.R. 1428, which would create a nationwide competitive grant program to fund transportation infrastructure.
“So it’s an infrastructure bill that, if passed, will allow localities like us to go and say, we need a grant for this road,” Blundo detailed. “So I am looking for different ways. We have a very small road budget here… about $2 million so if I am able to go to the federal government and say give me a $7 million road project, do you think that fixes some of our potholes in town? Just a few!”
Blundo touched on many other issues as well, including the Pahrump Animal Shelter, local development such as Spring Mountain Motor Resort, Yucca Mountain and nuclear waste and much more.
He then fielded questions from the audience, pertaining to even more vast and various subjects before thanking everyone for attending.
Blundo said he plans to host such town hall-style meetings on a regular basis, perhaps quarterly and will announce the next meeting when the details have been finalized.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at firstname.lastname@example.org