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Spellberg presents idea on incorporation

by Merrie Leininger

Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District Manager Bob Spellberg spoke to the Gardnerville Town Board last week about a proposal that would make it easier for general improvement districts and unincorporated towns to incorporate.

Spellberg said the plan is in its very first stages. Next, a state legislator will have to take the plan under wing, write a bill draft and introduce it to the Legislature in January. Spellberg said Las Vegas Assemblyman Doug Bache has already submitted a bill draft request for a very similar plan.

“This is just a concept I created out of a need I saw. It would allow GIDs to evolve into incorporated towns, which are called townships in other states, and gives GIDs more autonomy,” Spellberg said.

The Gardnerville Town Board asked Spellberg to speak about his idea after board member Tom Cook heard about the idea during a Nevada League of Cities meeting.

“As it goes on in time and goes into the Legislature, it is not going to be the same as we see it now. So I think we should pay attention and not get too excited until we know what this bill will look like,” Cook cautioned the other board members before Spellberg spoke.

Spellberg said his concept would require GIDs to make a proposal to the county, that includes a completed budget, town boundaries and town population. Then the GID and county would hold a series of public hearings before the county decides to grant the request of the GID.

Spellberg said his idea would allow a GID to stay a GID if its residents wished, but it would also clarify what the responsibilities of GIDs are for the Legislature.

Spellberg said the legislators are confused because a GID can be an entity which performs only one service, such as the pool district or the sewer district. It also can take the form of Indian Hills GID, which is able to do just about anything, including create a fire department, build roads and parks.

GIDs and unincorporated towns would have more revenue-generating ability and would not have to get approval from county boards for items such as rate hikes or to annex land. The town could also set its own fees, pass its own ordinances and have the possibility of getting more funds from the state.

Spellberg said newly formed towns, under his plan, would not have to provide every service. For instance, if the Ranchos became a town, he said he would like to work with the county so services, such as courts and law enforcement, are not duplicated.

Spellberg said the state formula for distributing money to towns and counties is based on a 5-year average of growth and population, but it does not look at population when distributing money to GIDs. A large district like the Ranchos would have the possibility of a windfall.

His proposal also allows for multiple GIDs in one area – such as Stateline, which has multiple GIDs – to form one town. Spellberg said there are more than 20 districts in the county.

Spellberg said Gardnerville was the first public entity to hear the proposal, beside his own. He said he would like the town’s support if his proposal is introduced as a bill.

“(We should) look it over and think about it and, at the next meeting, formulate a position,” proposed Chairman Loren Orr. “It may deserve some consideration.”

– In other agenda items:

Town Manager Diane Pettitt gave more information about her request at last month’s meeting to increase the town secretary’s position to full-time.

Pettitt said the secretary currently works from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and she would like to increase that to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

She said as the town has grown, more and more people and projects are requiring her attention and she would like to be able to train the secretary in her own job responsibility so she can easily step in if Pettitt is away at a meeting or sick.

“All of you have come down when the door is locked. We also get a lot more phone calls or walk-ins than we used to just because the town is growing,” Pettitt said. “A lot of that falls on the secretary’s shoulders. I’m interested in doing more training in that position and that is difficult when you are trying to just get things done.”

All the board members agreed and voted to increase the hours starting July 1.