Members of both the Ely City Council and White Pine County Commission traveled to Carson City on May 1 to continue the discussion on whether the City of Ely should be disincorporated and become the town of Ely under Senate Bill 238 (SB238).
State Senator and county resident Pete Goicoechea started the hearing in front of the state legislature Friday by bringing up the advisory question that passed in 2010 that asked local voters if they wanted the city and county to consolidate governmental services. Goicoechea, who originally sponsored the bill, spoke in favor of the bill alongside three current county commissioners: Gary Perea, Laurie Carson and Richard Howe.
“I believe that there would be a lot of efficiencies and cost savings if we did combine services,” Perea said, mentioning also that he felt the relationship between the city and the county is on good standing currently.
Not everyone that traveled to the capitol from Ely agreed with the commissioners opinion. City Attorney Chuck Odgers called the bill “unconstitutional” and said that the motivation behind the commissioners’ support was all the the money.
“This is a power grab,” Odgers said.”The consolidation and allegded savings are a fallacy.”
Odgers pointed to multiple city positions that the county does not have as a way to make the point that the county would have much more to gain from SB238 than the city or its residents would.
Mayor Melody Van Camp said that the City of Ely is in “good financial shape” and that disincorporation is usually limited to cities in financial trouble.
“As soon as the county squanders the city’s money and disrupts services, the Department of Taxation will step in again just as they did in 2006,” Van Camp said in regards to the county’s troubled financial situation nine years ago.
The original plan for SB238 was to have the disincorporation question placed on this year’s ballot as part of the general election on June 2. The bill was later delayed after city residents and employees voiced their concerns to the state legislature over the lack of time to educate the community on the potential effects of disincorporation.
The question is currently planned to be put on the 2017 general election ballot.