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Public hearing set for Pahrump Animal Shelter bond

Nye County is continuing to move forward with the process that will make way for construction of a brand new animal shelter in Pahrump, with a public hearing on the bond that will fund the project set to take place during a special meeting of the Nye County Commission to be held on Wednesday, Dec. 30.

The public hearing will address Nye County Bill No. 2020-23, a bill authorizing the issuance of the “Nye County, Nevada, Consolidated Tax Bond Series 2021” in the maximum amount of $4.1 million.

With the current facility in a state of disrepair and much too small to serve the needs of the community, a new animal shelter has been a topic of conversation for many years. However, funding has always proved a sticking point and despite a concerted desire by the public to see a new shelter built, the project had languished without any forward momentum, until this year, when the county finally went out to bid.

In October, the commission addressed an agenda item regarding the four bids that had been submitted and after a round of tense discussion, the project contract was ultimately awarded to B&H Construction in the amount of $3.97 million. The next step in the process, authorizing the county to seek funding via a loan or bond, was then broached during the commission’s Nov. 16 meeting.

At that meeting, commissioners narrowly approved a resolution authorizing a medium-term obligation. Despite the fairly straightforward nature of the item, it came with an unexpected amount of contention between members of the board.

Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo kicked off the discussion on Nov. 16 by making a motion to reject the resolution, which commissioner Lorinda Wichman seconded for discussion purposes.

“The reason I want to reject this is two-fold. We have an opportunity, I believe, to throw this back out and bundle a few community projects and make Nye County great coming out of this recession,” Blundo explained of his viewpoint. “I believe that by bundling several projects together, of a size and magnitude, we can save several million dollars…”

Blundo was referring to the idea of including construction for a community center type building at the Pahrump Fairgrounds as well as at the proposed Nye County Shooter Site, both of which are projects that the community has also expressed its desire to see come to fruition.

Commissioner Donna Cox added that she was not happy with the project as it stood either, because she was not satisfied with the contractor that had been selected for the construction. She said she too would like to put the item off for the time being and have the county review its options.

Nye County Commissioner Debra Strickland, on the other hand, pointed out that the county had just refinanced its jail bonds and with the new interest rate of 1.93%, the savings from that process would come to around $4.6 million which would pay for the construction of the roughly $4 million animal shelter.

“What I am concerned with is… this is actually the only project that is shovel ready,” Strickland added. “The shooter site is not shovel ready. We have no water, we have no sewer, we have no power. We have the same problem with the potential civic center at the fairgrounds and that particular project is going to be an expensive one to say the least.” Strickland also touched on her concerns that interest rates, which are quite low today, may go up in a few months and that could result in higher costs for the animal shelter, if the county did not move forward soon.

Commission Chairman John Koenig chimed in with his thoughts, remarking, “This is projected to be a 10-year loan but if I combine everything else in it (shooter site and fairgrounds building) you’re looking at a 20-year loan, so I would end up paying for this shelter for 10 years more than I have to, which is going to increase the amount of money I actually end up paying for a shelter.”

Koenig added that he would not be pleased to have the project put off once again, as the current shelter is dilapidated and the community has been clamoring for a new one for years. He said he was also concerned about the fact that the county had awarded the construction contract already, and he believed it would not leave a positive impression of the community if the board were to decided to renege on that contract.

Blundo’s motion to reject was voted down 2-3 with Koenig, Strickland and Wichman against.

Strickland followed up by making a motion to adopt the resolution. Further argument and debate ensued but in the end, the motion to adopt passed 3-2 with Blundo and Cox against.

Nye County Comptroller Savannah Rucker explained during the Nov. 16 meeting that when the resolution was originally created, it was drafted with an amount not to exceed $5 million and a not to exceed interest rate of 4.99%. However, with the construction contract having been awarded at just under $4 million and current interest rates of around 2%, Rucker said the amount of annual payment required to support the loan would be about $450,000 rather than $650,000 as originally estimated. She said that she would anticipate about $450,000 in interest to be paid over the life of the loan and also emphasized that the project would not result in any increase in local taxes.

Adoption of the resolution allowed the county finance department to put out a Request for Proposals, the deadline for which is today, Friday, Dec. 18.

The commissioners will be able to review the proposals submitted during the public hearing on the bill to authorize issuance of the bond, set for 10 a.m. on Dec. 30. That meeting can be attended in person at 2100 E. Walt Williams Drive in Pahrump or watched live online at http://nyecounty.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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