Sunday, May 5, 2013

Douglas County Commission Update

Compiled by Commissioner Lee Bonner

The second meeting in April was a shorter than in the past with a few items.  The meeting lasted just over 2 hours.  Here is a snapshot of the meeting and outcomes:
Nothing was pulled off consent.  The consent calendar is a part of the agenda where items are approved all at one time.  This is usually for items where it has previously been approved in the budget or items that are routine.  Commissioners or citizens can ask for items to be removed from the consent calendar for discussion and that can happen prior to the motion.  If an item is to be pulled they can ask a commissioner or the county manager.
The Sheriff’s Department along with Capt. Duffy went over the security of the jail which is required by NRS.  Douglas County is the only Jail in NV that has the national certification for how they run the jail. This keeps our liability low and our issues minimal with the inmates.  One surprise to me was that some inmates make their own illegal alcohol, so when they conduct searches they are looking for all contraband including this alcohol they make in their cell.  I asked how they did it and that was shared with me.  I won’t share details here, but if you are interested please send me a private message.

We discussed the rerouting of Burke Creek as it crosses Hwy 50, which will lower our TMDL which is the runoff into Lake Tahoe.   This is a good plan.  TMDL is Tahoe Maximum Daily Load which is the silt and runoff into the lake.  We have an obligation to reduce our TMDL by 10%.   Currently Douglas County has 18.2% of the lake shoreline and only 3% of the runoff.

UNR President Johnson came to discuss the combining of the Dept. of Agriculture and Cooperative Extension, which the board had previously taken a position against.  In the interim time I had time to study this and while I see some value in making this change, the board decision has been made with little doubt it will be changed.  The board was appreciative of his time in the commission meeting.  He has visited 16 of the 17 counties with no county coming out in support of this issue.  (side note:  NACO [Nevada Association of County Officials] took up this issue once again in the board meeting on Friday morning and were adamant against this combined effort.)

Discussion was taken up on the County Strategic Plan which I had pulled off the agenda at the last meeting.  I had pulled in off consent at the last meeting because we had not had time to fully discuss this issue.  “In my opinion”, the county strategic priorities are the single most important thing we do as a commissioner.  As we implement a priority based budgeting system, those priorities are the building block for how we rank all 702 county programs.  By not having a full discussion ahead of the budget cycle we are short changing the system.  Since the actual strategic priorities were not included in the agenda packet, the board was once again not able to discuss the priorities and the board decided to wait for this discussion in June.   This was disappointing to me, but we have to continue to move forward. 

Lee’s opinion: 

I would like to see the county adopt a few new strategic priorities.  One priority is the sign ordinance.  We make it difficult for businesses here to be successful by limitations on our sign ordinance.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want our view scape cluttered with signs, but I do want to see us find ways to help those that have made an investment in our community.
The other issue is that we need to focus on ways to get government grants to help county.  While the government is slowing running out of money, there are funds available for water wastewater projects and broadband as well as other issues.  I met with 2 lobbyists in DC on the last trip who are successful in helping counties get needed funds for infrastructure projects.  One helped a county in South Carolina receive millions for roads, bridges and public works.  We need to have a strategy to help get this done.
Next update will be after the May meeting – thanks for reading.

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