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Be careful what you ask for on county seat move

Tom Waters had open letter number 385 (or something like that) in the PV Times last week and decided that my facts were wrong.

Why he didn’t mention that the board unanimously decided not to put moving the county seat on the ballot mystifies me. He only takes issue with my statements even when another commissioner repeated my statements.

As stated, there is an NRS that shows how to get this issue before the people and if these people who think moving the county seat is a panacea, then by all means get the petition up and bring it to the county commission. Before you sign it you may want to understand better what I did or did not say and why I think it is a bad idea.

Tom stated that population should determine where the county seat is and that usually state capitals are in the center of the state. Carson City is by no stretch of the imagination the middle of our state. While Tonopah, constantly being referred to as “north”, is actually better defined as in the center of the county. Above Tonopah is a lot of land mass and many towns, like Round Mountain, Sunnyside, Belmont, Gabbs, Smoky Valley (upper and lower) Railroad Valley and more.

Population he says should determine county seats and names a few examples. I grew up in Orange County and Anaheim is now more populated than Santa Ana, but Santa Ana remains the county seat.

The county seat should only be moved if it would save money or if the town hosting it were going under. Ione and then Belmont quickly became ghost towns and so were replaced by Tonopah.

Tonopah is not going under and in fact has a few new businesses to boast of.

As for revenue and population: better than 50 percent of our revenue comes from “the north” while 80% of the population is down here. (And demand for services.)

If we continue to make an issue of ‘North and South” it is very likely that the people in the upper portion of this county could petition to split the county. If that were to happen they could afford it and we couldn’t so what would the state most likely do? Well, creating another county would require a constitutional amendment and creating a bankrupt county would never happen so I hope you like Clark County because that is where we are most likely to be headed. (Be careful what you ask for.)

Without showing any facts Tom and his friends think moving the county seat would save money.

How would it do that since we have already cut staffing levels up there to the bare minimum and moved the finance department down here to Pahrump? Even the jail has been cut down to a holding facility. Services would still need to be provided for the people north of Tonopah and so I see no savings there.

Maybe it’s just this “us and them” thing or the pride of saying, “I live in the county seat” that appeals to them. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that if this did become the county seat the “incorporation” crowd would be back telling us we need to be a city. (No wonder Tom supports it.)

Finally, Tom praises a commissioner for not going to the Tonopah meetings and in the same breath tells you all that the commissioners are “county” positions and once again tries to make his point that Pahrump has no local representation.

First, four of the five of us live in Pahrump, so we are local. Second, driving to Tonopah once a month to check on issues that, as “county” commissioners, we should be aware of is not a waste of money – it’s part of our job.

I often meet with voters up there and check into items of concern like the slime wash, (which is now being worked on) sidewalk fixes and animal shelter issues, just to name a few. The “savings” by not traveling is overshadowed by the inattention to those citizens not living in Pahrump and the inconvenience of not all being in the same room while we deliberate the issues. (How many times have we had internet issues and delays because we choose not to all be in one place.) If the “northern” commissioner didn’t show up in Pahrump but once a year I am sure this same group would not be praising her for saving money, but rather excoriating her because she didn’t care about the south.

(The other reason to travel to Tonopah once a month? It is where the meeting is being held – by NRS.)

His argument about not having to have the second meeting of the month in Tonopah if we moved the county seat really took a lot of space up. We have, in the past, held our second meeting in Beatty, Amargosa and other places. When we did, people in Pahrump were mad because we didn’t hold them here. We could hold the second meeting in any other town if we moved the county seat to Pahrump, but with Tonopah centrally located, why would we choose Sunnyside or Gabbs for the second meeting? (No disrespect intended to those towns.)

So while Tom says that I was being “footloose and fancy-free” with my facts, I am still waiting for any facts that would make me want to move the county seat. The fact that still does not seem to make it through to Tom is that while we may not be called a “town board” we are the governing board for the town of Pahrump as the people voted for and the town did not go away, as Tom asserted more than once that it would. Arguably, it is now running better and saving money.

(I think I hear open letter 386 being written.)

Finally, finally, we have maintained this huge land mass of a county for more than 150 years without having to split it up because of its size. With the computer age now in full swing I think it would be a big mistake to throw up our hands now and declare our county is too large to handle. If they could make it work in the last two centuries then why in the world, with all the advantages we have now, can’t we?

Let’s stop this us and them nonsense and the victim attitudes and just work together for the common good of ALL of the citizens of this county.

Dan Schinhofen in a Nye County commissioner.

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