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Town Board loses 2012 ballot appeal

Say goodbye to your town board, Pahrump.

The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled 7-0 to reject the Town of Pahump’s appeal of Ballot Question #2. The 2012 election question was approved by voters by a slim 231-vote margin.

The question asked voters to dissolve the current town board form of government in Pahrump and turn it instead into an advisory board, the purse strings of which will ultimately be controlled by the county commission.

Commissioners voted to put the question before voters months before the election, citing complaints from citizens that town board members were disrespectful of their opinions. The town’s attorneys filed for an injunction to prevent the question from being put on the ballot.

District Court Judge Robert Lane rejected the town’s arguments then and allowed the question to go forward.

The town’s attorneys appealed Lane’s ruling to the Supreme Court. Voters made their opinions known two years ago. But all seven state Supreme Court justices needed a little longer.

In their ruling made public late Thursday, the justices make clear that the crux of the town’s argument — that commissioners, in seeking and approving the ballot question, did not follow state law, NRS 269.022, by spelling out exactly how the town board form of government was not in the town’s best interests — failed to persuade them to overturn the District Court ruling.

The justices agreed that the state statute was ambiguous, but close examination of the legislature’s intent showed the court no specific legislative concern for forcing county commissioners to justify why they believe a particular form of town government no longer serves the best interests of the community.

“The record indicates that a majority of the commissioners believed that the town board form of government no longer served the best interests of Pahrump, and this is all that NRS 269.022 requires. We therefore conclude that the district court did not err by granting Nye’s motion for summary judgment,” the ruling states.

Nye County District Attorney Brian Kunzi said he was pleased with the ruling.

“The Supreme Court adopted the entire argument we made on behalf of the county. It wasn’t even a split vote,” he said. “My only frustration is that this has cost $100,000 in legal costs.”

Pahrump Town Board member Dr. Tom Waters said he accepted the Supreme Court’s ruling and now hopes to work closely with county official for a smooth transition.

“I personally think in a few years people will be asking for their elected town board back,” he said.

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