YERINGTON - Gov. Kenny Guinn impressed Lyon County commissioners last week with a pledge for the state to work closer with counties.
Guinn headed a 90-minute roundtable discussion with commissioners from all 17 counties at the Nevada Association of Counties conference in Las Vegas.
"It was the first time a governor has come to a NACO conference in a long time," Lyon County Commissioner Phyllis Hunewill said. "The governor had an interesting and important message for counties working together."
Hunewill and Lyon County Commission Chairman LeRoy Goodman noted Guinn's interest in having the state take over administrative duties for long-term medical care. The county's 10-cent tax for long-term care covers only two-thirds of the cost with Lyon commissioners having to ask for $300,000 in state funding to cover.
Goodman added that several rural counties have similar or worse problems funding long-term care.
"He said we need to look at the problem and put it in the hands of the best agency to handle it, probably the state," Goodman said. "Maybe we'll just take the 10-cent tax and give it to the state to administer."
Guinn's visit to the NACO conference reflects his commitment to make government work better, said Jack Finn, Guinn's press secretary.
"This ties in with his efforts to make state government more efficient," Finn said. "He is identifying areas being duplicated by state government and the counties."
Hunewill welcomed Guinn's involvement in the county conference.
"A lot of issues are important to counties," Hunewill said. "The governor said these need to be discussed before we get into the short 120 days (the length of the legislative session). It was an offer: let's get together and talk."
Goodman and Hunewill saw Guinn offering a united front with the state and counties when asking the federal government for more local control of federal land. The Bureau of Land Management controls about 87 percent of Nevada's lands.
"We did see encouraging words from the governor in letting counties have more say in public lands exchanges and public land uses," Goodman said.
Hunewill hopes this translates to water rights issues crucial to Mason Valley and Smith Valley in southern Lyon County.
"We want to be on top of water issues," Hunewill said.
Working to plan for growth was a key topic for rural and urban counties. Hunewill foresees all the counties working together as Nevada continues to grow.
"It's very reassuring to hear commissioners from Clark and Washoe counties voice their concerns about the rurals," Hunewill said.