The spirit of cooperation took center stage during Tuesday night’s Pahrump Town Board meeting.
Board members agreed to meet county officials halfway for security services provided during last month’s Spring Mountains Run motorcycle rally.
Initial costs for implementing last-minute security measures totaled $12,750 for 255 man hours at a rate of $50 per hour per deputy for the shift schedule.
Though town staff initially recommended denying payment to the sheriff’s office until a full accountIng of the agreement was completed, all parties eventually agreed on a figure totaling $6,450 for security.
Pahrump Town Manager Susan Holecheck said on Wednesday that meaningful dialogue helped both sides reach a mutual understanding on the matter.
“I think the ‘take home lesson’ was communication. If they had called and told us not to worry about it because they didn’t need as many people at the site, while submitting a new invoice, we probably would not have needed the whole item on the agenda. It took up a lot of people’s time, but I do understand we all get busy,” she said.
The problems for the town began one day prior to the three-day rally when Sheriff Tony DeMeo approached town officials and event sponsors about security at the Petrack Park venue.
In the days leading up to the rally, DeMeo said he had reason to believe that rival biker gangs with a history of violence could pose a threat.
He obtained the information from Homeland Security.
“These bikers have been known to cause violence and we obviously don’t want that,” he said prior to the event.
The agenda item took on an odd tone when Buildings and Grounds Manager Matt Luis provided his account of the security dilemma.
As the buildings and grounds manager, Luis oversees maintenance and operations of town facilities. Handling security for an inaugural motorcycle rally is not usually part of his job description.
Luis said because the town manager and board member Bill Dolan were out of town, he and Finance Director Michael Sullivan helped negotiate a quick agreement with DeMeo, while keeping Chairman Harley Kulkin abreast of the situation.
Kulkin, who is the sole board member with a full-time job, was not pleased with DeMeo’s last-minute request.
Luis admittedly suggested that the town had plenty of time to work on providing security for the rally after approving the event late last year.
“We failed to put something in place in seven months – plain and simple. For those reasons, I do not recommend denial of this agenda item to pay the sheriff’s department,” he said.
Luis said the town could have been held liable if a bystander was injured as a result of violence at the rally.
“The chairman told to us to ‘do what we had to do’ and Mr. Sullivan wrote up the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). It’s easy to say after the event what a waste of money this was, but sitting in the room with the information we had from the sheriff, I felt and Mr. Sullivan agreed, that we could not take a chance,” he said.
Holecheck, meanwhile, told the board that Luis was not originally expected to speak on the matter as it was Kulkin’s agenda item.
“Mr. Chairman, you were the one that actually asked for this to be put on the agenda, not Mr. Luis. You were the one that made the request of me, not Mr. Luis. We weren’t saying to deny the money, we were saying not to just give it until we got the accounting from the sheriff’s office,” she said.
Kulkin, on the other hand, cautioned the board on expecting a first-time event to be a homerun.
He also commented on overreacting to baseless rumors.
“The promoter from the beginning said we’d be lucky if we got 500 people and he didn’t expect to make any money. You have to build these events,” Kulkin said.
Board member Amy Riches told the sheriff that she believes the town would have been better off not agreeing to sponsor the event at all.
Board members later voted unanimously to render payment.
Holecheck said the town paid the security bill on Wednesday morning.