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Town hires code compliance officer

The Pahrump Town Board welcomed a new staff member this week by hiring Kevin Harper as the town’s new code enforcement officer.

Harper is presently assistant commander with Nye County Search and Rescue.

According to the town’s job description for the position, Harper will oversee code enforcement mainly for business licenses both out in the field and in the office to assure compliance.

The part-time position draws a salary range between $16.83 and $22.12 an hour.

More than 30 applicants applied for the job.

Town Manager Susan Holecheck said the position’s duties will focus primarily on making sure residents have obtained a town-issued business license.

“He will visit various places around town to make sure that people have business licenses, and if they don’t he will try to encourage them to get one. It’s good for the town, particularly for those vendors who are selling food. Plus when we have revenues coming in, hopefully we will have the funds available for us to provide more things for our people,” she said.

The town manager also said though the new position comes with limited authority, the district attorney’s office will work with the town to get vendors into compliance.

“Brian Kunzi has indicated he will keep the records. If we continue to have problems with compliance for certain businesses, maybe at that point we can turn it over to the district attorney where maybe some action can be taken from that standpoint. We are going to try and do this nicely and encourage people that it would be in everybody’s best interest to get their licenses,” she said.

Holecheck noted that even though some town staff may lose their positions depending on the looming Supreme Court decision on ballot question #2 from the 2012 election, she believes the code enforcement position may become more or less a permanent one.

“I am always getting phone calls about code enforcement or whatever. I think for sure that his is a job that will definitely go on and grow,” she said.

Harper, who is scheduled to start early next week, said his previous background in law enforcement probably gave him the edge over the other applicants.

“I was law enforcement in New York State and moved to Nevada in 1983. I was director of security in hotels and casinos for several years. I moved out here and became vice commander with Nye County Search and Rescue. I am grateful to be selected by the town for this position,” he said.

The town’s proposed code enforcement program differs from that of the county’s, which deals with cleaning up messy lots and county zoning violations.

The county program is still in existence despite last May’s retirement of George Bernath, who wore a few hats as air quality control officer, code enforcement officer and flood plain administrator. That was followed by the layoff of code enforcement officer Loreli Nolan last July.

The Nye County Planning Department is now handling complaints about messy properties, with Planning Technician Qiana Medici doing the inspections and Administrative Secretary Celeste Sandoval the paperwork.

“We haven’t got any complaints we can’t get anything done on a timely basis,” said Nye County Planning Director Bobby Lewis, who oversees the code compliance program.

The county relies on citizens to file complaints about messy properties. Planning staff doesn’t just cite someone, a meeting is then set up with the property owner, if they can be contacted, to try to rectify the problem.

Nye County Deputy District Attorney Marla Zlotek said she’s awaiting an administrative warrant from the Fifth Judicial District Court to enter a property at 3401 E. Savoy Blvd., the next major abatement project that was declared a nuisance by county commissioners in January.

The property consists of multiple hazardous structures, junk vehicles, trash, broken objects, debris and abandoned mobile homes. The county attempted to contact the property owner, the Dea Family Ltd. Partnership, to no avail. A notice of violation sent to the owner dates all the way back to Aug. 26, 2008.

A county code compliance report shows two cases were prosecuted through the courts since a web-based system was instituted in 2008.

Forty-seven cases have been referred to the district attorney’s office, the DA declined to prosecute another 32 cases. Code compliance could get caught up on 322 cases opened since 2008 that have yet to be addressed.

Lewis was proud of one statistic, the 1,634 closed cases by county code enforcement, since 2008, meaning the county came to an agreement with the property owner.

Pahrump Valley Times Senior Staff Writer Mark Waite contributed to this story.

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