A Special County Commission Meeting was held today to discuss or take action on lifting restrictions and closures affecting County Park equipment, play structures, aquatic center, skate park, success camp, and other county recreation facilities.
Chairman of the Commission Richard Howe posed the question to the commission, “Do we want to risk things right now? The process that is being taken by all the state counties is to move forward and try to enter phase one as a unit. “
Ian Bullis, County Commissioner explained that he felt like when it came to liability and those kind of things, we could see issues with the pool and camp success. “The bigger matter is to see trespassing signs on parks, seeing that is widely seen as the most asinine thing that was done. I think we should at least open the parks and the state parks, because the risk really is minimal.”
It was discussed on whether or not a waiver could be utilized for people who would enter the aquatic center, or rent camp success.
District Attorney Mike Wheable had concerns about the risks of being contrary to the governors orders. ”We probably already have a waiver, but here’s the real issue… that works in general liability circumstances, there is a state law….they can’t waive away those rights, because we are inviting them to violate the law, so we may still be subject to liability, maybe not locally, but when that goes to appeals court, you better believe the court is going to back the orders.”
Elizabeth Frances, Finance Director for the County chimed in explaining to the commission that a risk such as the waiver could become a financial issue. “If you are not following the law that’s been put up by the governor you may not have insurance protection through our insurance company because we have potentially allowed a violation of the law. So if we did get sued, it would be on us.”
Bill Calderwood, Public Works Director provided the commission with samples of the signage that was displayed at the park areas. The initial physical barricades of the playground area were similar to the parks owned by the City of Ely. “When the barricades were removed it was almost like a green light was given to go play with everything, so Mike Wheable helped me with this, this is all that’s up there.”
Clarification was something Calderwood was requesting from the commission.
After much discussion Howe noted that the County is ten days out from Governor Sisolak’s date to start the re-opening phases. “Is it worth it for us? We have a meeting a week away, is it worth us to risk anything? To risk seven days? We are bound by the Governor, we like to have it all open, happiest day of my life is when they opened the golf course last Friday, but we have to look at everyone in the community. Maybe table this and put it on the next agenda Wednesday. We’ve been down for 8 weeks now, what’s another week?” Howe said.
Motion was made and voted unanimously to table the item.
The next agenda item was to discuss and take action on approval of various measures to preserve the County’s financial stability in response to the economic crisis and projected revenue deficits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I need to update you on some financial information and it is not a positive note. I was informed by the Nevada Department of Taxation that a high level overview of what net proceeds minerals will look like for this year, they are budgeted at $3 million in your general fund alone, they will come in at a little over $800,000 you are moving 2.2 Million..in revenue from your net proceeds and that is 14 and a half percent of your general fund revenue. I have taken steps to discontinue transfers from the general fund to special revenue fund at this point in time, I have asked taxation how I can amend the budget.”
Frances stressed that the county is going to have to take a look at what to do to stay with in the law as it applies with local finance.
Commissioner Travis Godon questioned Frances if there was a reason from the Department of Taxation of drop in net proceeds. Frances, did not have the information but noted she would research it with the Department of Taxation.
Godon, “All of the commodity prices have been decent, it’s really weird. If it was that big of a hit you would have seen layoffs or something.”
Commissioners Shane Bybee and Laurie Carson and Bullis agreed, noting something seemed very off, and asked Frances to work with taxation and have more info by the May 13 meeting.
it was noted that a special Legislative Session has been scheduled for later in July questioning if any of this was connected to the fluctuation in financial numbers reported from the State.
Godon, “it’s almost like an entire mine shut down with that big of a drop”.
Bybee, “A special legislative session is scary, because the state has a history of coming after local revenues when they have a budget shortfall, and when they don’t get those revenues then they just pass along a bigger share to the local governments to pay for, they either take the money and pay for it, or they pass that expense back on to local government and we are going to see a pretty good combination of both no matter what.”
Item was passed unanimously.