County delays dissolving district
June 18, 2016
The first reading of an ordinance that would have dissolved Douglas County Sewer Improvement District No. 1 was delayed pending a ruling from the Nevada Secretary of State.
After five hours of listening to members of the sewer district, public comment and District Attorney Mark Jackson, Douglas County commissioners voted 4-1 Thursday to table the ordinance.
Commission Chairman Doug Johnson was the only one who voted against it, saying if they approved it they could start the clock on getting more information.
The meeting had rough start with the room reaching capacity by 1:20 p.m. and all of the seating gone by 1 p.m.
Many people were directed to the live-feed or asked to sit in another room to watch the meeting, while a handful of people inside had to stand for the entirety of the discussion.
"You don't have a proper order for people to speak," said planning commissioner Jim Beattie. "Most of the people in this room live on the Valley floor."
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Attorney for the sewer district Sev Carlson asked commissioners to table or pull the agenda item to allow the public a full opportunity to participate.
Jackson is accusing the district of violating Nevada's election law, saying that no one has appeared on a ballot since 1984.
The district was founded under Nevada Revised Statute 309, which was repealed by the legislature in 1967.
The district charges $444 a year for sewer service, which is less than Douglas County or Indian Hills, but more than twice the rate charged by the Minden-Gardnerville Sanitation District. That district, located in Minden, charges an average rate of $167.90 a year.
Assemblyman Jim Wheeler was present and said that they would be looking into legislative measure regarding NRS 309 and the confusing nature of the text that is interpreted in several different ways.
"If it aint broke, don't try to fix it," said Lake resident Phil Humphreys. "When you give government a chance to operate something they are gonna screw it up."
Most Lake residents testified that they were happy with the service they receive from the district.
"DCSID No. 1 has done an outstanding job, impeccable planning and foresight," said Tahoe Township resident John Packman. "No laws have been broken or abused."
Cave Rock Estates resident Ralph Miller said that the sewer district is in great shape unlike the county run water system, which is in "utter disrepair."
"We are the rate payers of the district," he said. "We are the ones that are satisfied with our service."
Valley floor residents were present to voice support for dissolving the district based question of its legality.
"The most compelling thing is DCSID No. 1 has operated illegally for decades," said Dan Greely. "I support and urge the board to dissolve this illegal board."
Although Jackson started his presentation by saying this isn't a Lake versus Valley thing, some people didn't see it that way.
"It seems like the Lake and the Valley will never get along,' said Bob Cook. "I do not see all sides represented here."
Dave Nelson, who will take office as a county commissioner in January, agreed with Jackson that the board operated illegally but merging two districts together would be a better solution.
"A merger would keep the county out of the business of running utilities," he said.
Chairman of DCSID No. 1 Mike Bradford said that he was there for the ratepayers and wants to find a solution.
"Let's collaborate, lets talk about what is to be done to fix this," he said.
Commissioners Barry Penzel and Steve Thaler asked Jackson why there was a rush, and if they could hold off on a decision until hearing from the secretary of state and meeting with the district.
"If (getting a letter from the secretary of state) is important you, it's important to me," said Jackson.
They reached an agreement to wait for the letter and to give all interested parties a chance to work together.