Tonopah town budget big on savings

At more than 30 pages, Tonopah’s 2016-17 budget plan is in its final phases as the town lays out its spending priorities for the year ahead.

The town board on April 12 voted unanimously (with member Doug Farinholt absent) to approve the tentative budget. When finally adopted later this spring, it would kick in July 1, 2016 and run through June 30, 2017.

“We are bringing things up to date in the town,” Chris Mulkerns, the town’s administrative manager, said of the spending plan. “We’re refurbishing parks, new equipment (is planned) for some of the parks. The ballfields are being brought up to date. The pool is being brought up to date.”

The town has total available projected budget resources of nearly $2 million in 2016-17 for the general fund covering day-to-day government services.

The town is carrying over nearly $1.2 million from the current 2015-16 budget year to the 2016-17 cycle.

That surplus money is known as a “beginning fund balance.”

“We never spend what we say we’re going to spend,” Mulkerns said. “We’re very conservative that way.”

The town is budgeted to collect $759,973.

“We budget conservatively on the revenue,” Mulkerns said. “We collect more than we budget, and we budget conservatively on the expenditures.”

That means the town budgets for more than it actually spends.

“It has worked for us that way,” Mulkerns said.

“We’re in a very good position,” she said of the 2016-17 budget.

“If things happened where we were not getting any money at all,” Mulkerns said, the town through its budget surplus/carryover would be able to take care of its obligations for two years.

“I’d say that’s a pretty good position to be in,” Mulkerns said.

Inside the numbers

The budget document offers some insights into the town, including projected decreases in population from 2,593 residents June 30, 2015 to 2,578 June 30, 2016 and 2,345 on June 30, 2017.

Those numbers come from the state demographer, which the town is required to cite in its budget, Mulkerns said.

“If you go the Nye County website and look at their numbers, it’s about 500 more than this (demographer’s calculation),” she said.

The size of Tonopah’s projected population as calculated by the state leaves the town a bit puzzled.

“Our numbers are coming down, but not to that extent,” Mulkerns said. “We’re about 2,800, which is what Nye County has Tonopah at.”

Some population declines are attributed to work being completed at the SolarReserve Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant.

“Construction workers who were in town for SolarReserve are now dwindling and going away,” Mulkerns said.

Contact reporter David Jacobs at

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