Workers leaving as TRE roads get worse

Ballman Way in Topaz Ranch Estates is a rocky road. Photo special to The R-C by Mark Pascus

Ballman Way in Topaz Ranch Estates is a rocky road. Photo special to The R-C by Mark Pascus

Thursday was the last day of work for Topaz Ranch Estate General Improvement District employees Reid Howard and Christine Bradford.

Howard said he doesn’t feel safe working for the district due to the conflicts between the board and residents over the state of the roads in the south county community.

Howard and Bradford join District Operations Manager Cody Dalhaus leaving the district short of personnel even as the roads continue to deteriorate.

“I grew up here,” Howard said on Thursday. “I enjoyed helping people out. But I couldn’t stay. It’s too much.”

Resident Mark Pascus said he is watching the roads along Ballman Way disintegrate as a result of flood damage and previous maintenance issues.

He’s concerned that the damage will end up isolating his neighborhood.

“We’re going to be landlocked,” the 12-year resident said on Tuesday. “They tried to gravel it and now there’s a big sinkhole. (We) will be landlocked if our auxiliary road gives way, like it looks like it’s doing.”

Pascus said he fears that with the workers leaving, residents will be left to figure out the roads on their own.

Around 1,650 people live in the community that’s located in southeastern Douglas County off of Highway 208.

Roads within its boundaries are the responsibility of the improvement district board, which is elected and has its own tax base.

The community bore the brunt of the winter storms, particularly a Tonopah low which dumped snow in the Pine Nuts and eastern Carson Valley.

Estimates on the damage to Topaz Ranch Estates have increased to $7.2-7.3 million, according to district board members, who sought help from Douglas County commissioners earlier this month.

Just the 25-percent match for potential Federal Emergency Management Administration funds could amount to more than 10 times the district’s annual tax revenue.

District Chairman Brandon Taylor told commissioners on July 6 that the $160,000 a year the district receives in property taxes has to cover 27 miles of roads.

Pascus and resident Jeff Mehoves have told The Record-Courier the roads weren’t that great before the storms.

Topaz Ranch Estates has one of the highest tax rates in Douglas County, but also one of the lowest tax bases. In Nevada, property tax is based on property value, which determines the actual tax residents pay.

Formed Sept. 7, 1971, the district has its own taxing authority and is responsible for roads within its boundaries. According to the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office the tax rate dedicated to the district is 85.46 cents per $100 assessed valuation, the maximum.

It has been 31 years since the entire Topaz Ranch Estates General Improvement District board resigned in 1992, in part over difficulties maintaining the roads.


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