Douglas County Manager Steve Mokrohisky participates in a monthly question and answer forum online on The Record-Courier’s daily Running Commentary. Anyone with questions is welcome to participate in the next scheduled forum on April 10 at 10:30 a.m. For a full transcript of the last forum, go online at recordcourier.com and search “County Manager Q&A: March 13” Here are excerpts of the last forum:
Steve Mokrohisky: I have a few brief updates to start, if that’s okay. First, as many of you are aware, there is a lot of activity in Genoa with the final work in the Genoa Vista Trail and the Main Street enhancement project. I just want to remind everyone that businesses in Genoa are open through construction, so please stop by and support our local businesses. Also, we have an Economic Vitality Showcase on 4-7 p.m. March 26 from at Carson Valley Inn. Please stop by and visit with our project teams. This is a great opportunity to engage in community projects that you may be interested in. Finally, we have public workshops planned to begin developing a long range vision for the Carson Valley on April 8, 9 and 10 at CVIC. We will have more details on the workshops and opportunities for the public to participate in the next few weeks.
Q: Has the county had a chance to review the proposals from KGID and Tahoe Douglas for operating the lake water systems and what is the resulting decision?
A: The county has reviewed the proposals and presented the information to the Board of Commissioners at their meeting on Feb. 21. The initial proposals from KGID and Tahoe Douglas District did not provide substantial cost benefit to our customers, but the board directed our staff to continue to work with KGID and TDD to evaluate opportunities for additional cost savings. We are hopeful that we can develop a scenario for responsible operation and maintenance that provides some relief from current Lake Tahoe water system rates.
Q: We had a story on the recent developments in the ongoing battle over the FEMA flood maps. Can you give us a quick rundown on the latest. As a side note, could you also tell us more about the developing national notoriety of the county’s challenge?
A: I’ll fast forward through the past four years of history and provide the latest update over the past two months. We received a letter from FEMA in February 2013 that states “FEMA is prepared to work with the county to leverage all of the data that the county has developed since the appeal and use any available FEMA map change mechanism to expeditiously revise and improve the current effective flood maps.” We view this statement, which can be found on the ninth page of the letter, as a positive indication that FEMA will utilize the county’s data, not FEMA’s data, for any future studies and work quickly to get new maps approved. I was in Washington, D.C., along with commissioners Doug Johnson and Lee Bonner last week meeting with our Congressional delegation and we pushed hard to get new maps in place ASAP.
We were just notified yesterday that FEMA has resumed the review of the Buckeye Creek study, which FEMA placed on hold for the last several months. We are cautiously optimistic that FEMA will follow through on its latest commitments.
Q: Exciting day at the Airport yesterday with the pilot taking a hard landing on the runway. Thankfully no one was hurt, but can you comment on the response from both the airport and the rescue personnel? It seemed like the situation was under control rapidly.
A: The response from the Airport staff and our public safety officials was outstanding. Airport staff reached the scene with two vehicles and fire extinguishers within an estimated 2 minutes of the crash. 911 was notified that there were no injuries, fire or fuel issues, but first responders arrived quickly in about 10 minutes. The pilot was out of the aircraft walking around after about seven minutes. The entire accident scene was clear and the runway reopened in two hours and 52 minutes. The process included FAA preliminary on site investigation, notification to the National Transportation Safety Board, accident forms, photos and removal of the aircraft to a maintenance facility. The situation was handled very thoroughly and professionally.
Q: With more than 100 people attending the Financial State of the County address earlier this week, how do you feel the event went? For those that weren’t there, can you provide a bit of a summary?
A: We are very pleased with the attendance and response at the first annual Financial State of the County. It is often said that decisions are made by those who show up and we had about 100 people show up on Monday, which is a 90 percent increase in attendance from previous budget kick-off meetings. One of our primary goals with the event is to raise the profile of our budget discussions and better engage the public in how taxpayer funds are spent, what we are doing to stabilize our finances and how we are working to address other challenges in the community. We will continue to build on the success of this event by engaging the public in thoughtful dialogue about how to solve our challenges. As I said at the event, the state of Douglas County is stronger today than it has been in five years, including a leaner and more cost-effective local government, and investment in the vitality of our local economy. We have reason to be optimistic if we focus on solutions to the challenges ahead of us, primarily maintenance of existing road and water system infrastructure. The public is invited to attend our budget hearings on April 9 at 5 p.m., and April 10, May 8 and 9 at 4 p.m. at the Historic Court House in Minden.
Q: What is the Economic Vitality Showcase? Are the community projects you mentioned private or public sector sponsored?
A: The Economic Vitality Showcase is an open house/trade show format to highlight various public/private/non-profit partnership projects. For example, the Genoa Destination, Main Street Gardnerville, Tremendous Trails, Sports Aviation Foundation, and Community Services Foundation are all public/private/non-profit partnerships that engage local volunteers in focus areas leading to economic vitality. The showcase is an opportunity for local residents and businesses to engage in important community initiatives.
Q: The number of different taxing units within the county (34) came up this week, that it is less only than Clark County in total number in Nevada, as well as being highest per capita. Is there any plan, or support, for reducing that number or consolidating some of those districts in the near future?
A: The fact is that Douglas County has the second highest number of taxing units in the state. About one third of your tax dollar goes to the County, one-third goes to the School District and one third goes to other taxing units (Towns, GIDs, etc). The County has no plans to consolidate those taxing districts, as we have plenty on our plate that needs to be addressed before more services are taken on. It’s also important to remember that government closest to the people tends to govern best. Having said that, we do feel that we need to engage in a discussion as a community about opportunities for creating the most cost-effective public services possible to our taxpayers. We have done a lot to reduce duplication and costs on the regional level, working in partnership with Carson City, Story and Lyon counties to share services, and there may be opportunities to do the same within our community, including water services. We already have a great regional partnership with the Town of Minden, Indian Hills GID and Carson City for regional water services. The 2003 State of the County identified funding for road maintenance as an important need, but 10 years later we are still working to solve that challenge. Hopefully we can start a discussion today about opportunities to reduce duplication and cost for similar services being provided by multiple entities, so that in 10 years we don’t look back and question why we didn’t even ask the question.
Any public officials interested in participating in a similar online forum can contact The Record-Courier at firstname.lastname@example.org or 782-5121, ext. 212.