The Nye County Water District Governing Board could disband before the end of the year as the district’s expenses continue to outpace revenues.
According to the annual budget submitted to the state in May, the district’s revenue from the $5 parcel fee is estimated at $271,000, while expenses are projected at approximately $580,000.
Board member Greg Dann said that another revenue stream would be needed for the district to function under its current structure.
“Maybe in the future, we can figure out another way to generate some more money, but right now, that’s what it is,” Dann said. “We are way out of line with what we bring in at $579,842.”
During the Tuesday meeting, officials also mulled the future of the general manager’s position, as they tried to address the financial setback. Among the six suggested options were removing the position and investigating a more cost-effective replacement, assigning the position to someone else who would require less funding, defunding and reducing funding to the position.
“Our budget is gone just on wages,” Pahrump resident Kenny Bent said. “Those aren’t deviating, that’s not changing, that’s not a carryover, that’s where we are set. There’s no money, it’s all being paid in wages to staff.”
According to the budget, approved salaries and benefits for the current fiscal year total $191,000 — up from $176,353 in the previous year. The expenditures for services and supplies come to $361,400 and include $233,450 in salaries for the five existing contracts for Kathy Gilmore, Mary Ellen Giampaoli, Oz Wichman, George Benesch and Las Vegas-based Leising Geoscience that conducts a hydrologic and hydrostratigraphic study of Pahrump Basin 162.
The elimination of the board, however, could present a challenge as officials just passed the third draft for the Basin 162 Groundwater Management Plan for Pahrump, Lacy said.
“This board is supporting that groundwater management plan, and one of the big issues for this group looking forward is going to be the implementation of that groundwater management plan,” he said. “There are a lot of issues that need to be discussed as we move forward here.”
James Eason said the board needs to determine whether it’s going to be able to operate with a carryover, and questioned whether a $5 parcel fee was the right way to fund the entity.
“In my reading of this budget, we aren’t going to be able to carry over another $100,000 to $200,000 like we did last year,” he said. “If we aren’t comfortable with how the $5 parcel fee was put onto everybody’s tax bill to fund this district, which was also accrued and voted on by the Board of County Commissioners, let’s go get an attorney general’s opinion.”
Lacy wasn’t able to provide the total for the projected carryover but said that the budget changed since it had been passed on May 28 and the numbers were “better.”
Recently, the county received a grant that will support DOE and the Desert Research Institute with water science and water sampling in conjunction with the Community Environmental Research Program (CEMP), Lacy said. The grant is for about $250,000 a year for 5 years. “The grant is with Nye County, but we share staff resources with the water district, so this may have an impact on the water district budget,” Lacy said. “I do not have any details yet but we will go to the BOCC for final approval to accept the grant.”
In three months, board members said they will come up with a plan that will include a list of fiscal responsibilities such as staff funding and the future of the general manager’s position.
“I believe that we need to define our direction,” Eason said. “I believe this board’s composition is changing. We are made up of many new members, … and I think we need clear definition of what we want to be.”