Open space meeting June 26 |

Open space meeting June 26

by Christy Chalmers

Douglas County leaders will hold a special meeting June 26 to begin fine-tuning the quarter-cent sales tax question voters will see in November.

The text of the question, which would raise money to preserve undeveloped land, has been drafted, along with an explanation and arguments for and against it. The county commission agreed Thursday to discuss it again June 26 and July 6.

County Manager Dan Holler said an open space management plan that must be adopted if the ballot question is to be implemented should be complete by the July 6 date. Several public hearings on the plan will be held before a final version is adopted.

The ballot question must be submitted to Clerk-Treasurer Barbara Reed by July 17.

“I think the more time we have and the public has to scrutinize this, the better,” said commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen.

Etchegoyhen, who manages the Mack Ranch in Minden, has long been a proponent of preserving ranch land. He recently became the Nevada director of the American Land Conservancy, a private group that advocates land preservation.

If approved, the quarter-cent sales tax hike would raise Douglas County’s rate to 7 percent. A semi-private coalition of ranchers, business people and residents urged the county commission to put the question before voters after several months of meetings and surveys that showed residents would be willing to pay to protect Douglas County’s open land.

The coalition is planning a campaign in support of the tax increase, which would generate an estimated $1 million per year.