Indian Hills candidate says trustees took pay they weren’t supposed to
A former Indian Hills trustee who is seeking to be returned to his seat has sent a complaint to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office that at least two of his opponents received pay raises they weren’t entitled to.
Art Baer, who served on the district board between 2002 and 2006, served as district manager in the summer of 2008 and was rejected by voters in the 2008 election, said that district trustees voted to alter their pay in December 2006.
Baer was on the board at the time and said he voted against the pay change, which was prompted by a change in state law.
The 2005 Legislature approved increasing pay for trustees in districts formed under Nevada Revised Statutes 318, which in Douglas includes Indian Hills, the Gardnerville Ranchos and a variety of others.
According to the law, which took effect Oct. 1, 2005, district board members had to have the same pay, and that pay could not be effective until the Jan. 1 after the next biennium election in which it was approved.
Indian Hills trustees had different pay at the time, with the board chairman receiving $350 a month, the secretary getting $300 a month and other board members getting $250 a month. A board member has to attend all the meetings in a month in order to receive their pay.
Board members Charles Swanson, Riley Evans, Laura Lau, Brian Patrick and Art Baer discussed the issue on Dec. 20, 2006, and voted 4-1 in favor of increasing trustees’ pay to $350 to comply with the law.
According to Baer, trustees started collecting the new pay in January 2007, two years earlier than allowed by the law.
Patrick is the only trustee serving on the board who both voted for the pay increase and benefited by it.
On April 8, 2005, Fred Hillerby, who testified before the Legislature for the new law, said the idea was to require a trustee to undergo an election before receiving a raise.
“This has to be passed by the board for the regulation to increase their salaries, but then it cannot go into effect until Jan. 1 following the next general election,” he told legislators.
“Some of the board members will have stood for re-election. If their constituents did not like the fact they had voted themselves a pay increase, then my sense is the rest of the board would get that message and repeal that pay increase.”
Trustee and former district board chairwoman Dianne Humble said she felt the board members should have been aware of the law regarding the pay raises.
“I’m extremely disappointed as a resident and taxpayer that they are not more familiar with risk management and laws in NRS 318 provided to them in a binder by the attorney,” she said. “When you take public office you should familiarize yourself with your pay and responsibilities. I think that would be prudent.”
At most three of the five trustees would be liable for $2,400 each. That amount would be reduced based on time spent as chair or secretary.
District counsel Scott Brooke said he hadn’t seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on it.
Seven Indian Hills residents are seeking one of four seats on the board.
They include incumbents Denise Pierini, Brian Patrick, Ron Lynch, Bill Eisele; former board trustees Baer and Ron Kruse; and Marco Manor, who has neither run nor served on the board before.