It was the last White Pine County Commission meeting for Commissioners Gary Perea and Carol McKenzie.
Chairman of the Commission Richard Howe thanked both of them for their service, their volunteer hours with fire, and ems, and their tireless efforts in the community. “The citizens of White Pine County appreciate both of you, and it should be recognized, the commission has made tremendous strides.”
An agenda item that had Howe pretty irritated was the approval of County Clerk to hire Robert Dugan to fill a vacancy in the Clerk’s office.
Tim Bunch, Human Re-sources director, spoke before the Commission explaining that the position was posted. Bunch noted that he did not conduct the interviews nor did he make the appointment for Dugan to be hired.
“Nichole (Baldwin), the de-partment head, conducted the interviews and offered Dugan the position with the consider-ation that he brings exceptional experience, and at a different step.”
Howe who appeared frustrated said, “ I got a problem with this. I have a problem with a department head or elected of-ficial setting their own pay scale. That’s a county commission de-cision, that’s this board.”
Howe went on to explain the pay scale and the process through the bargaining unit, voicing his concerns over this incident. “This was done wrong, this job was advertised at $16 an hour, just like every other job and we have a responsibility, we have opened a can of worms, an elected department head has taken it upon themselves, and it irritates me, this one really got under my skin.”
After discussion back and forth between commissioners and Bunch, Nichole Baldwin, the White Pine County Clerk spoke saying, “The bottom line is this individual is probably more qualified than me to work in this office, and it would be a loss to the county, a loss to the courts if we lost him. He’s not currently making $18.21 that’s what this item is, so the commission can approve that, because his exceptional qualifications are documented in the backup material and I hope you had a chance to look at it, and see that his man has extreme work ethic, integrity above anyone I’ve ever interviewed to work in my office, or who is applied for a position, and he’s already integrated very smoothly in my office, and I hope the county will pay him what he’s worth, because he’s worth more than $18.21”.
Howe seemingly frustrated still commented that the process taken was wrong, stressing that there is a chain of command that needs to be followed.
Commisioner Steve Stork suggested a future hiring workshop to eliminate these situations. “This process has changed in more than one way, let’s let Tim do his job to educate the people,” Stork said.
District Attorney Mike Wheable suggested the commission hold a legal meeting. The meeting was recessed briefly. When the commission re-adjourned, Elizabeth Frances, Finance Director, explained that the employee was hired and is currently being paid at the entry level pay. If the commission chooses to increase Dugan’s pay, then the change would be reflected. Baldwin asked for the pay to be retroactive to the start date
Perea said, “In the past it’s been a recommendation by department heads or officials to set the step, this is totally backwards, we don’t want to set a precedence for the future, but we also don’t want to penalize an individual that they had no control over.”
The motion was made by Perea and approved unanimously to increase Dugan’s pay and make it retroactive from Dugan’s start date.
The commission is seeking to have a lobbyist during the 2019 Nevada Legislative Session. The request on the agenda was to request approval to engage a lobbyist in support of the Legislation to Fund the White Pine County Justice Center Project in an amount not to exceed $12,000 with the funds coming from the General Fund Contingency.
“Our success of legislature has been non-existent. The investment of $12,000 is to try to obtain up to $10 million in funding from the state because of the state’s involvement in cost associated in building this courthouse which serves us,” Wheable said.
Mari Nakashima St. Martin who works for the Perkins Company is who has been recommended as a lobbyist to represent White Pine County.
Howe spoke of how the county has been going through this for three years now, and agreed that this was the right way to go.
“I think it’s a good idea, my thoughts are we have some other issues, and water being one of them, if this works out, or even if the next commission consider allowing this person to work on some of the water issue as well,” Perea said.
Wheable said, “Looking at the state, it’s pretty surprising to see that we haven’t hired a lobbyist. This is a single issue, that’s why it’s only $12,000 but we probably have two or three other issues that we could use someone down in Carson City calling us ahead of time so were not leaving last minute or not prepared to testify.”
Perea noted how every other county has a lobbyist, and made the motion to approve this item. The item was approved unanimously.
Another Justice Center related item was the approval of Resolution 2018-76 to increase courthouse security with funds for the purpose and to approach the Nevada Legislature to acquire the balance required.
Wheable informed the commission of the percentages of inmates who are from various counties across the state and are located at the Ely State Prison. In 2017, 75 percent of inmates were from Clark County, seventeen percent are from Washoe, a handful from Douglas and one percent of the rest are from the various other counties.
The White Pine County Jail housed six inmates from the Ely State Prison in 2017.
Wheable stressed the need for security and gave an example. “Anytime they get in trouble at the prison, for shanking, stealing or whatever there situation may be, they get transported by van, we put swat on the grass while mothers are walking their children into the library, and the middle school is having their lunch in front of the courthouse, and that’s just not ideal,” Wheable said.
The motion was made to approve the resolotion and was approved unanimously.
At the end of the meeting during public comment Perea took a moment to speak about his tenure as Commisioner. “In 2003 I came on board, I am happy to say the county is in much better shape now than when I came in and I am proud of the small part I played in that, and working with everybody, it’s been a pleasure.”
McKenzie said,”I feel the same way, I thoroughly enjoyed being a county commissioner, I am going to miss it.”
Commissioner Shane Bybee and Stork both thanked the two departing commissioners. Stork said, “You have both always have had White Pine County in your best interests”.
“Gary and Carol, it’s been a pleasure working with you, and knowing the both of you, I don’t expect to see you disappearing from public life, I’m pretty sure you will both be out there serving your communities, all our communities”, Bybee said.