Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Column 136 –Town (3)

I attended the Bonanza Election Forum the other night to hear the candidates for the Fire Board and the County Commission. We have really done a Keystone Kops job of getting the information out in a way that is understandable and relevant., and I was struck by how uninformed and misinformed all the candidates were about the town issue.; I have to lay the responsibility for that lack of correct information at the feet of the members of the Independent Incline Committee, of which I am one. and we are committed to correcting that situation between now and November 4th.


I think Jim Clark has done a yeoman's job in his columns of trying to put his finger in the dike against the flood of misinformation, but it hasn't been enough. One good thing is that we now have a much better read on what people are concerned/worried about than we had two months ago, so keep those cards and letters coming. Over the next month and a half we will run four major advertising pieces on the front of that annoying wrap-around section of the Bonanza. In each of these we will try to be as clear, accurate, and informative as possible – we continue to believe that, when the facts are known, you will support this effort, so we are concentrating mostly on information rather than advocacy. We're also going to continue to speak at local clubs and anywhere we can, and there will be another Bonanza Election Forum on the town question on October 14. This will be a pro-con debate with questions moderated to be sure that the discussion stays on point, so we hope to have ample opportunity to get the accurate word out and hope that you will keep an open mind until you hear all the facts.


I do want to use this column to clear up a couple of the most popular misconceptions up front. Here they are in brief, and we'll address them more fully as we go:


A Town Will Add Another Layer of Government to the Village. To the contrary – the government of the Town will be exactly the same as the government of the GID – in fact the first five-member Town Board that is seated on July 1, 2009 will be the same people who were on the last IVGID Board on June 30. What the town does is move more of the governmental functions that already exist closer to the people who are affected by them.


I Don't Care What They Say, I'm Sure This Will Add More Taxes. Well, it will or it won't. The Town Board will have the exact same taxing authority as the IVGID Board, and will pass more taxes or not – in other words, our taxes will be determined by our elected officials exactly as they are now. We can't promise no new taxes if we go to the Town, and our opponents can't promise no new taxes if we don't.


It's Not Really Revenue-Neutral. You've got us on that one – we miscommunicated by focusing on only one part of the story. Here is an accurate picture: Washoe County has agreed to transfer annually to the Town of Incline Village an Animal Control position ($116,037), a Community Development position ($122,617), and 75% of local gaming license revenues ($128,000) per Nevada Law (NRS463.323) for a total of $366,654 coming to the Town.


IVGID does not currently have those positions, but if we use salary figures supplied by the American Planning Association and the Humane Society, the Town could pay wages and benefits (based on IVGID's benefit percentage, not the County's) to a Senior Planner at $91,000 and to an Animal Control Officer at $54,000. Add in an additional Administrative Assistant ($54,000) and additional office space, supplies, and equipment ($42,500) and the total cost to the Town would be $241,500, or a surplus of $125,154. Even allowing for possible underestimates, that beats revenue neutral. This should more than cover turnover expenses to the GID and to the Town for staff work, new stationery, etc. Not exactly revenue neutral, but close - the actual expenditure will be about 1% of IVGID/the Town's annual revenue.


What About the Sheriff and the Fire District? Absolutely, unequivocally no change – none has ever been contemplated, and an MOU with the Fire District to this effect is in the works. This, for us, is a clear case of "it ain't broke, and so it doesn't need fixing." Same for the highways.


Since We Need Action From The Legislature, We Should Wait. We do need some legislative changes, and are assured we'll get them in this session. In fact, some key people in the Legislature will term out if we don't do it this time. But the fact is, if we don't get what we need passed, the IVGID Board can simply not pull the trigger on the Town even if everything else up to that point is positive.


More to come. Feel free to contact Jim or me or others on the committee if you have questions.

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