By Kay Lynn Roberts-McMurray
Ely Staff Writer
At the May 12 Ely City Council meeting, there was much discussion about the proposed city ordinance 689, which would allow the city of Ely to use room tax funds for infrastructure projects instead of the intended purpose of promoting tourism. It was, by far, the hottest topic on the meeting’s agenda and local citizens and business people alike expressed their concern about the ordinance during the public comment. The city of Ely has proposed an increase to the current room tax and wants to use two and a half percent of the tax for city projects to improve infrastructure issues such as improving streets, sewer, etc. Some of the public commentary asked if the ordinance is legal. Local business owner Brian Goeringer, who owns the J
ailhouse Motel-Casino said “I don’t feel that pushing further taxes on the present tourism industry right now is the way to expand tourism. I’m not an attorney, but it seems that you guys are threading a legal needle and the one thing that NRS 268.096 is clear about is that the Fair and Rec Board can and will be able to go after this new title code legally. You guys could be, once again, creating a legal battle with taxpayers’ money”. It was suggested that the council seek guidance from the Nevada State Attorney General’s Office to clarify what the hotel tax money can and cannot be used for.
In the end, it didn’t matter. The ordinance passed by a 3-2 vote, with Councilwoman Robison and Councilman Carson voting no. Several in the audience, whowould not go on the record, said that this is not over yet, and there will be communication with the Attorney General’s office, in regard to the legality of the ordinance and other prior issues with the council. As for the city of Ely, as of now, the ordinance is in place, but it seems very likely that the city will once again become engaged in a legal battle.
In other items of interest at the meeting, Robinson Nevada Mining Company attended the meeting to give a presentation and entertain discussion of its dewatering plan. Also in attendance was Schlumberger, which is the company conducting the dewatering study for the mine. The presentation explained the process and future plans for the next several years.
Councilman Setterstrom brought up for discussion changing the lien process for past due landfill balances due to the city of $250 or more. The current process is allowing property owners to go several months without paying their landfill fees before the lien process begins.
There was public comment in regard to the recent enforcement issues regarding debris and excess waste located on local business and homeowner properties. It was expressed by some that it was a waste of money to send out a $6.00 certified letter for some violations, which seemed to be frivolous. Local business owner George Chachas stated that “selected enforcement has to stop.
The next council meeting is on Thursday May 26th.