Philosopher Camus wrote “Always go too far, because that’s where you will find the truth.”
City of Ely Council Meeting – December 22, 2016
Richard Howe “The county and city are co-owners of the property at the Public Safety Building (Sheriff’s Office). The building is old and becoming dilapidated. The county is vigorously going after funds from the state legislators. There is about $10 million earmarked for this project. The judges and other officials will be going to the legislative in January. The longer we wait to have our name on the deed of the property, it is going to cost us more and more money. Just last Thursday the interest-rate’s did rise and with each rate increase it will cost several hundred thousand dollars to the cost.”
Steve Stork “I was unaware of this and being a new elected commissioner, I felt I needed to bring myself up to date. We have been considering project for the last 40 years and we can’t get it wrong. Let’s take our time and do it right.”
Discussion for settlement offer from S&S Short Line leasing LLC
S&S Short Line has offered the city of Ely $750,000. $700,000 is for the purchase of 100% of the city of Ely’s ownership in the Nevada Northern Railway. $50,000 is for legal expenses to draft a new agreement between SSL and the foundation.
City Attorney “Before we discuss selling the railroad, we need to get an estimate of its value. We cannot sell it for less than its is fair market value.”
Bassett “There is another way to handle this. It is in the NRS’s that the city can gift the railroad.”
Attorney “According to the offer the SSL plans on doing the complete railroad, not just the northern tracks for $700,000.”
Bassett “The NRS’s say the city can not own a railroad outside the city limits.”
Setterstrom “Why did Congress give us the money to buy the railroad if it was illegal?”
Bassett “It’s A very obscure NRS.”
It appears the SSL’s owes the city or the foundation back rent for storage of rail cars on the northern part of the railway. There has been no payment since 2009. The city would like to see a copy of contract. No one seems to be able to come up with the contract. If there is a contract it needs to be produced or SSL needs to pay rent on the rails that they are using. The Nevada Northern Railroad Foundation is in favor of the City selling the railroad to SSL.
Offer denied Vote – 1/4, Robison yes.
Deeding APN 022-280-15, more commonly known as 1785 Great Basin Blvd. (Public Safety Building), to White Pine County for the purpose of building and expanded jail facility and or state of the art secure regional Justice Center.
Steve Dobrescu “In the late 70s everything changed in the courthouse. Prior to that the sheriffs department and the jail were in the courthouse. There was plenty of security with the sheriffs being located in the building. In the late 70s there was a new sheriff station and jail built on Great Basin Boulevard. There was no state prison at that time. In 1966 there was a plan to build a new courthouse. In 1967 the county commissioners established a courthouse construction fund. $385,000 was put in the fund. The city and the county went into agreement to build a public safety building. In 1973 the County Commission was offered 8 1/2 acres and the County commissioners did take the property.
1974 The question was how do we fund the building of the public safety building, being as this building will eventually be a courthouse complex we can use the courthouse construction fund. In 1975 the deed came in the name of white pine county and city of Ely. In 1975 there was a discussion as to whether the courthouse should go in front or back of the public safety building. The money for the courthouse was spent on the public safety building, draining the fund.
With the state prison coming in, they needed more room in the courthouse and different offices were either eliminated or moved to other locations. We went to the legislator in 2005 and said you have a moral obligation here. We are handling the state’s worst of the worst prisoners. There was interest but it just didn’t fly. We went back in 2007 it pasted the Senate Finance unanimously than got killed in the Ways and Means. 2007 we got the Marshals Report. The number one problem with the location of the current courthouse is it’s too close to a school and the library according to the US Marshals Service. The concern was that if there was ever an incident in that courthouse it could be a disaster.
Then the county goes into receivership and is taken over by the state. At this time the county had a grant for $2 million to establish a juvenile detention center.
Every two years the Nevada Supreme Court asked do you want to try for this courthouse again, we know it is a need. And we had to say well the county has no money. So what happen this spring was, finance came and said we have some money and laws have changed.
The question came up about closing the courthouse. Well first of all the courthouse will not be closing. If the court system moves out you still have other offices in there.
Why can’t we build the new structure behind the courthouse on the annex site, the US Marshal said don’t ever do that. It is too dangerous.
One thing else that happens around here that we do not like to talk about, is that the drug cartels go through here every day. Several have been caught here and luckily they plead guilty. They bring in a high price lawyers. I sentenced one the other day to 15 years. He would not give up any information, and if the cartel felt he would what would happen to those children playing in the park. That’s Supreme Court only gets 10 BDR’s (Bill Draft) a year. And they have held one in reserve for White Pine county to assist the building of the courthouse.”
Gardner “My question is do you realize there’s a school up there and a McDonald’s?”
Dobrescu “Yes but nobody’s playing in the front yard. The warden says it will save the prison a thousand dollars for each transport to have a vehicle drive into a secure tunnel and would even save more on trials.”
Setterstrom “It is our County Commissioner who should be addressing this. I have a letter here from our District attorney addressed to the city attorney. ‘Chuck I just threw this together please review and make suggestions. Get it back to me and I will put it on the County commissioners agenda.’ This never happened. I don’t even know if the county commissioners are backing this, we have only heard from one commissioner. You have made the suggestion that the county move the employees from the old times building back into the courthouse. The commissioners have not said that. It should be the commissioners coming to us with this request. And what if it turns out to be another red building.”
Setterstrom “I would make a motion that we table this until we get a formal request from the County commissioners. I think this will happen but we do need to hear from the County commissioners.”
Wheable “This is a chance for the city to put conditions on the agreement. I don’t think the city wants it’s name on the loan. I cannot speak for the commission but I know they are in favor of this plan.”
Setterstrom “What are we paying for use of the courthouse now? Nothing. This is what we need an agreement on for the future and the new courthouse. We have to know that we will not be charged for the use of the courthouse.”
(I must say I agree with Setterstrom , The Commissioners should have sent a letter directly to the City Council. This should not have been a lawyer to lawyer discussion. I think this would’ve been on the city agenda long before now and would have been resolved .)
Wheable “We are not asking the City to pay for any expenses for the new facility. We only need the property deeded over to the county. This will be a secure building not only for the county court employees, but also for the city court employees. When The county deeded over land to the city for the fire department building, we did not demand that employees stay in the old firehouse, the city employees going up on Great Basin did not seem to be a concern with the downtown area.”
Hanson “Where will the commissioners hold their meetings. Will they hold their meetings in the courthouse in the evenings?”
Wheable “It is a public building and I believe that would be more than reasonable.”
We can’t lock in the loan rate in without the city. If the rate goes up 1% while you are debating, that is an other $200,000.
Coster “I think it’s the general consensus with the commission and the community that we need more secure facilities for the court and the jail and they need to go together. Because it reduce transport costs and risk to the community. But I can tell you down in Vegas the courthouse is right downtown or in Utah. You can put secure facilities in downtown urban areas. The question here today is being modeled, where does it need to go, does it need to go on your land and can you quickly write down what you need. Do not be pushed the interest-rate’s just increased just increase two months ago. There is time to consider this agreement. You know you’re going to go to bed tonight thinking what about this and what about this. Tonight has reminded me of a condo salesman just sign and you’ll get your theater tickets later. I would say the responsible thing to do is to take those questions to take these questions to responsible person and be a partner on this.”
George Chachas “If you put it out there, what about loaded with fuel that goes out of control and goes into that building could wipe out our fire station, Sheriff Station and fried chicken at the apartments below. “
(The US Marshals report states “The white pine county courthouse is situated within a residential area to include a middle school and public library. I must state for the record that this facility should no longer be used for any courthouse related matters either civil or criminal, in close proximity are residence, a middle school and the county library. It is my understanding that Ely maximum security state prison inmate use this facility for most of their criminal and civil matters, should a serious security breach occur the close proximity could endanger residence and many of the middle school children in the immediate area. It will also hamper responsible Law enforcement agency since they will have to address the residence and children safety results in addition to any security breach that occurs.”
The safety of our community is the most important consideration!)
Jim Northness “This is about public safety. Hey turn it over and then work out the details with the county. Those prisoners are not nice people and I feel we need to keep them as far away as possible.”
Fire chief Rivera “I am grateful for the county turning over the property for the firehouse and the solar panels. That process did not seem to be as much chaos as this. I just don’t want you to forget that.”
Motion to table passed 3/2 Robison and Hanson no
Discussion/Action – City Administrator Switzer to hire a collection agency, develop a proposed increased landfill rate structure and approach White Pine County officials regarding placement of landfill maintenance fees on the property tax rolls in order to reduce the approximate $367,865 past due landfill receivable balance of the owed to the city.
The city has no leverage to collect the landfill fees from county residents. It would be to their advantage to have these fees added to the property taxes. This will help in the future, but they would like to look into a collection agency to collect past due landfill bills.
Discussion/Action – Approval to move back into Historic City Hall located at 501 Mill Street.
The Council and city functions can take place while renovation is underway. Setterstrom and Carson have agreed to do minor repairs before June to make it a suitable place and other renovation can take place around them. This would save this city rental costs.
(This is another example of officials not thinking through their decisions thoroughly.)
Discussion/Action – Direction to City Attorney to draft an ordinance limiting unrestricted gaming licenses to establishments having 50 or more rooms and a bar on the premises.
Christensen (Building Inspector) – “We have given Love’s the permission to have 36 gaming machines. They do not have any rooms and there is not a bar, how do we handle this?”
Gardner “Can we grandfather them in?”
Setterstrom “The Cities zoning is so messed up. There are residential in the middle of commercial zones and commercial zones in the middle of a residential.”
White Pine County Commission Meeting –
December 14, 2016
Public Comment –
Mayor VanCamp : “We have an untapped gold mine, but we have no signage. We should not be a gas stop, but a destination”
Donna Bath : “We have over 1000 kids in our community who are looking for recreational opportunities. If you’re going to raise the hotel tax you need to spread it around.”
Appointment of Dr. David Byun as WPC Public Health Officer and Chairman of WPC Board of Health, for the term of two years, monthly compensation to be $100.00.
Chief Woolever reported there were 54 calls, 25 for medical one was an accident two fires and there were 27 life flights.
(It appears our life flight numbers are going up again.)
The Town of Baker to purchase a replacement fire engine for the volunteer fire department. A used 1997 fire engine was found for the price of $26,995.
There seem to be a question about the county fire department reporting the number and types of equipment owned by the county. The question was answered by Lori Carson, stating that we do get a report every year and it comes in a blue folder.
(I know that the brain file drawers sometimes don’t open, had the experience myself. Remembering details is not always easy.)
For discussion/approval- WPC acquiring APN#003-044-01, a.k.a. Ruth bar a.k.a. New Ruth Club, pursuant to NRS 361.603 and conveying the deed to such parcel pursuant to NRS 244.284 for a public purpose provided by Simplistic Solutions.
Johnathan Dishong “To answer George’s question, the building has been up for auction twice and it is a shell. We are going to have to replace all of the electrical and plumbing, as well as the roof. “
Burton Hilton “The county would have to notify the owner and give them 90 days to pay back taxes. If they do not do this, the county can take possession of the property, however the county would have to pay the taxes in the amount of $7700. And they would be paying it to themselves. $4,000 would come back to the general fund and the other would go to identities like the EMS and the schools. Then at that point the commission could turn it over to Simplistic Solutions, with restriations as to use. If they fell outside those restrictions the building would revertback to the county as county property.
Dishong : “We have our own servers and the building would be set up for the use of the community. The uses will be after school programs, homeschooling, and I’ll direct activities for the whole community. Our board members are Josh Nichols, Dan Nolan, Geri Wopschall and myself.
Carson : “Can you state your mission, what are your goals?”
Dishong: “We are an educational nonprofit, over the past three years we have been fixing and giving away computers. Training seniors to use computers, we also do the senior wood project. We have four board members, but we also have dozens of volunteers.”
Howe: “I am not in the favor of the county giving property away. Maybe there’s a way we can take it back to the tax sale and not put a dollar amount on it. Maybe someone would buy it for less money.”
McKenzie : “I have no problem with this. If these people are willing to go to the expense of fixing this building up, if and when the county gets it back it will be an improved building. If it hasn’t sold two auctions, what do we have to lose, it seems like we’re making progress.”
Dishong: “We will be collecting donations to provide the money to improve the building. The mines are donating and we have other resources, but first we need to know if we can get the building. We can’t ask for donations without knowing whether the county will provide the building. We never stop asking for donations and implementing new programs. At the moment we have four programs going, one of which is “you are not alone” T-shirt project., The shirts have a hotline phone number. We have never failed to acquires the funds to complete each project.”
Attorney Beecher: “To answer a question brought up by Howe, the treasurer can remove some penalties and interest, but she cannot reduce the price. This is taking the first step, the owner has to have a 90 day. This process can be halted at any time.”
Coster: “This is a great idea, I have a couple of concerns mostly dealing with this isn’t a very mature idea it’s very speculative. There are a lot of nonprofits in this county who have not approached us, they may not know they can. There are a lot of other nonprofits that should have a shot at this, that have been around longer and have a financial statement.
Vote 3/2 Howe and Coster voting no.
(Being on the board of Simplistic Solutions, I don’t feel I should make a comment. It was a very good discussion. I do know the commissioners must consider what is in the best interest of the county.)
The renewal of the memorandum of understanding between WPC and Retired Citizens Volunteer Program (RSVP) for the period of 2017 2020 was approved.
Finance director Elizabeth Francis reported that ADS Software System is going out of business and that the county will have to find a new provider. This business will be closing it stores in December 2020. White pine county will have to find a new provider and have it implemented by the 2020 years end. This will be in an expense added to the budget and most likely the services will be more expensive. Departments involved are Assessor, Treasurer, Recorder, Finance, Clerk, Elections, District Courts I and II, Justice Court and Building and Planning.
(This is going to take a lot of organization and the finances to complete this new system.)
The WPC School District asked to assist with the Cherry Creek School facility renovation in the amount of $28,000. The commissioners replied to the School District that they could not help.
Allow the Chairman to accept the USDA RD letter of Condition and to sign the obligating documents. This is for the loan of $9,161,000 to build a new courthouse. It must be signed by the end of the year to secure the low interest-rate. Coster questioned the requirement of location and asked if the land is in the county’s name only. Vote 4/1 Coster voting no.
(In September 2005 the county quick claim deeded to the property to build the city fire department on. The county is trying to get the city to quick claim deed the land for the courthouse and fire station. Talks are on going with the city to acquire this land.)
Audit Committee – Art Olson, Burton Hilton and Martha Sindelar
Baker Area Citizens Advisory Board – Lynne Hoffman
Baker General Improvement District – David Baker
Building & Planning Enterprise Fund – Currently in active
Economic Diversification Council – Angela D. Simpson, and Kenna Almberg
Industrial Park Review Board – William Miller
Local Emergency Planning Committee – Archie “Les” Robison, Matthew L. Martin, William Miller and Mike Coster
Public Land Users Advisory Committee – Mark Tefft
Regional Transportation Commission – Wayne Cameron
White Pine TV District No. 1 – Sid Beckwith
No one was appointed to the Tourism and Recreation Board. There are three openings for the board and there are 17 applicants. It was suggested that the commissioners interview the 17 applicants. How ever this cannot be done because they did not interview any other applicants for other committees.
City of Ely Council Meeting December 8, 2016
Public Comment –
Linda Davies read a letter she had sent to the City Manager. This letter requested money she had been charged in acquiring minutes, agendas and back up. She stated in 2013 the legislative changed the rules on charging the public for public information. It is no longer legal for any public or government board to charge for any of these items. At the end of Linda’s statement Bob Scwitzer the city manager gave Linda a check for all the money she had spent.
(I am very proud of Linda Davies doing her research and approaching the City Manager with this information. When the legislative changes, eliminates or makes new laws it comes to the local governments in reams of paper. The amount of paper makes it very difficult for cities and states to stay abreast of all new laws. The city now knows, if anyone has paid for copies of agendas and back up or minutes, they can approach the City Manager to get their money refunded.)
The letter was read from Wyatt Cox, KELY 12:30 AM radio station. Mr. Cox would like to let the city Council, the commissioners, the sheriffs department and any emergency departments know that the radio station would be happy to announce any emergencies that the community should know about. The radio station will provide this service at no charge.
(This is long overdue. It would be nice to know that certain areas are closed down because of a hit-and-run, and every day accident or anytime the police are investigating an area and may have it blocked off. I do understand that this could cause a problem as some people are Looky -loos.)
Bruce Setterstrom commented on the dog pound. He said that our dog pound has never been a no kill facility. A few years ago the time an animal was in the shelter before euthanizition was extended to a 10 day period and the charge for adopting a cat was reduced to five dollars. There have been very few animals euthanized in the past few years.
(When you feed your pets outside or feed a stray animal, you are encouraging more and more animals that could be euthanized at the shelter. You are responsible for your actions and the breeding of unwanted pets!)
A letter was read concerning the street lighting in Ely. Many places do not have street lighting and some of the lighting is not maintained. This needs to be corrected for the safety of our citizens. People traveling through Ely, quite often do not slow down.
James Ramsey’s resignation from the Municipal Utility Board was accepted.
Approval to request that the Nevada Department of Transportation install a pedestrian activated lighting and or traffic light at the intersection of 15th St., East Aultman and additional street lights at the intersection of 13th St., East Aultman and 14th St., East Aultman.
Draft response to Public Utility Commission regarding their letter dated 12 – one – 2016. The letter is in regards to railroad crossings, the signage and the paint on the road to indicate a working railroad. The City Council has a agreement with the railroad to provide all signage that is needed at the railroad crossings. Mark Bassett stated that most of the signage is in place, some signs are on order and will be up shortly. He feels the painting of the streets is not the railroads responsibility. Setterstrom repeated the agreement with the railroad and Bassett agreed that they would somehow do the painting of the streets.
Approval to purchase time clock system integrated with City’s Casselle payroll software. Setterstrom “In the past five years, there has never been a city employee late to work.” The new system would be a thumbprint activated system at the cost of $4081.70. There would be an annual fee of $1200. There would be two locations for these time clocks. One would be at the landfill and the other at City Hall.
Kurt Carson did object to these time clocks. Robinson said it was a good idea but the wrong time. The purchase was approved 3/2.
Carson and Robinson voted no.
(This time clock will save work in like city offices and will keep everyone honest and beyond reproach. This is a excellent idea and should be practiced in the County as well.)
Consideration of character, alleged misconduct, professional competence, or physical or mental health of city building official Brad Christiansen. This item have nothing to do with Christiansen ‘s conduct. This item was about a pay raise Christiansen received after the county maintenance agreement with the city to hire him as their building inspector. The city gave him a raise and feel they make a mistake. The county agreed to pay $34,000+ mileage for using the city building inspector. The city increased his pay by $29,000 plus benefits equaling $37,400. The county has not paid and they will not pay any mileage, until there is an accurate way to calculate the amount of mileage is used in the county. This agreement with the county, is being re-looked at and will be renegotiated with the new incoming commissioners. Christiansen volunteered to give up $5,000 of his pay. The council agreed to this, but it will be revisited. Setterstrom “When you made a mistake you have to correct that mistake.”
(Not unlike the county, the City gives wage increases to quickly without thinking of the consequences. The City Manager and City Attorney will also be asked to cut their pay. The city is in a losing proposition with the county and does need to renegotiate.)