July 31 Letters to the Editor
August 12, 2015
Connectivity plan not realistic
County commissioners will be considering how to raise $4 million in new taxes to create a revenue stream to repay $50 million in bonds, which in turn are to be used as matching funds to attract some $200 million in federal and private grants.
Does the county have a firm plan on how $250 million in infrastructure spending would generate eventual equivalent business and taxpayer payback? Well, not exactly. More like airy-fairy pie-in-the-sky might be more accurate.
Oh there are ideas. A Valley Vision, a Lake Vision, connect Ranchos to Gardnerville's Community Center with a bike/pedestrian path, somewhat loosey-goosey Minden & Gardnerville beautification and prosperity plans. And there are grandiloquent dreams: A gondola from the Valley floor to Kingsbury summit and Heavenly. A Minden-Genoa bike/pedestrian path. A Minden-Genoa V&T train loop, if Chris Bently brings the V&T down from Carson City. Their first grand total project cost was $400 million, but they toned it down to a mere $250 million. Next they're liable to include swinging on a star.
This letter is intended to encourage residents to attend the Board of Commissioners hearing, and challenge commissioners to put parameters on any new debt and spending that require evidence in public hearings of how the spending will bring equivalent benefits to county residents – before issuing new county debt.
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They don't intend to ask voters if we want to be burdened with $50 million in debt. They consider they were voted into office to take such hard thinking off our hands.
If we don't show up, some commissioners might think that just using our bonds to leverage $200 million of grant money for our county is payback enough no matter what it's spent on. Some are positively salivating at the prospect of so much money passing through county government hands.
County management's plan is to have bond money available as matching funds when they firm up infrastructure projects and apply for grants. In theory, not a bad idea from their standpoint. In practice, it's better if county management defines economic or non-economic payback to taxpayers in public hearings before issuing any new debt. Proposed spending is too comparatively enormous for residents to be giving government officials a blank check to burden residents with the level of debt envisioned.
At the present time, county connectivity has one firm plan in place, the Lake Vision Highway 50 loop road at the Lake enabling through traffic to by-pass the casinos and a pedestrian-friendly beautification of the present casino corridor.
Every casino CEO showed up at a commission meeting to rave about that Lake Vision and its potential contribution to their businesses. They strutted their own multi-million-dollar investment plans. Could we be forgiven for asking if Lake Vision would bring in so much additional business, why haven't they all already pooled their investment dollars without waiting for taxpayer subsidies? Curiously, none of the commissioners asked that. They're too busy salivating over that $250 million in their hands.
Jack Van Dien
Reserves available for road work
Keep Douglas County reserves in mind when considering the report, as published in The R-C on June 26 given to the County Commissioners regarding county road maintenance. It is reasonable to assume that the report originated within the county Public Works Dept.
There are appearances that the Board of County Commissioner's are ignoring basic responsibilities and are hoarding huge amounts of resources.
In Douglas County's Financial Report for FY 2013-2014, page 25, they report a year end total of $72,519,191 in cash and investments all unrestricted. In addition, after all annual revenue was received and expenses paid, there was total end of year fund balances of $48,642,449. Their annual revenue exceeded annual expenses by $2,191,097. Note is made that expenditures of $12,224,089 were made for the community center from revenue of $14,550,000 received from bonds issued in a previous year, therefore these numbers are not used here.
The road maintenance report says there will be an additional source of money for road construction when $3 million in certain bonds are paid off over the next five years. What about the reserves?
The report draws a distinction between regional and local roads.
It estimates a cost of $11.65 million to eliminate the regional road maintenance backlog. It reports that the $2.3 million regional road budget with an additional $600,000 annual shortage would eliminate the regional backlog. This would take four years. Waiting five years for the bonds to be paid off to make up the shortage makes that nine years to eliminate just the regional maintenance backlog. What about the reserves?
Maintenance of 154 local roads are not funded according to the report. It is in the report that it would cost $4.8 million a year to eliminate the local repair backlog. If the county is responsible why isn't it funded? What about the reserves?
According to the report it has been 25 years since any work has been done on regional Jack's Valley Road from 395 to Genoa which is in need of $3 million in repair. Also regional Waterloo Lane has been so neglected that it is now in need of $2.5 million for complete reconstruction. What about the reserves?
County commissioners are scheduled to discuss increasing taxes that would leverage grants and bonds to pay for constructing more roads. They apparently are considering, without matching state and federal funds, increasing the county's debt from $36.2 million reported in their Financial Report to between $94.2 million and $353.2 million to pay for bypasses at Stateline and Minden-Gardnerville. The cost estimates for the bypasses are taken from the county's Connectivity Plan Team's presentation to the commissioners and Minden Town Board. They are wanting to build more roads while they are not maintaining what we have now.
The commission is not serving the interests of the people of Douglas County by amassing huge savings nor accumulating massive debt.
Loud vehicles obtrusive
As citizens of Douglas County for 17 years, we have noticed a significant increase of vehicle-caused noise pollution. There seems to be a growing mentality that an individual's right to draw attention to themselves via loud, excessive noise, trumps the right of their neighbors to a peaceful, healthy environment. Their rights end when they negatively impact the rights of others, as supported by Nevada Revised Statutes: 'NRS 268.412 Prevention of excessive noise. …the city council or other governing body of a city may, by ordinance regularly enacted, regulate, control and prohibit, as a public nuisance, excessive noise which is injurious to health or which interferes unreasonably with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property within the boundaries of the city. NRS 268.5215 "Pollution" defined. "Pollution" means any form of environmental pollution including but not limited to water pollution, air pollution, pollution caused by solid waste disposal, thermal pollution, radiation contamination or noise pollution…'
Studies have connected noise pollution with temporary and permanent effects on the endocrine and autonomic systems. Health issues exacerbated by excessive or sudden noise, which triggers the body for a fight or flight response, include cardiovascular disease, stress and anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Noise pollution is also linked to impaired task performance, which adversely impacts students and employees. Those most vulnerable to noise pollution are children, the elderly, and those living with depression, according to the Southern Medical Journal.
At least 90 percent of the traffic that passes our home is unobtrusive, but that inconsiderate 10 percent it feels as if they are trespassing and assaulting us. These self-centered few are not considering who they are disturbing, or they don't care. Perhaps inside the homes they pass are people in poor health, people trying to sleep so they can perform safely at work, a colicky baby who just calmed down or a veteran suffering from P.T.S.D. I am asking drivers to consider how their actions are impacting others in their community. Please be good neighbors.
Testing complaint closure
The 2014-2015 school year is behind us, and a new school year is about to begin. I would like to bring closure to the situation regarding the testing irregularities at an elementary school in Douglas County. When information gets passed from person to person, the details can get misconstrued. I would like to respectfully clarify some of the information.
When testing irregularities occur, teachers are required, by law, to report them.
There were eleven separate test scores reported. Some of these reports were for the same student, but reported by multiple teachers.
The CRT and the MAP are not the same test. However, a student does not score extremely high on one and extremely low on the other.
The testing irregularities that were reported were not make-up tests.
The students whose test scores were reported are in several sub-populations. Their test scores are very important to the star ranking of the school.
The teachers who reported were told not to talk to anyone about the situation. They were told it was highly confidential. The reporting teachers abided by this.
As for the investigation, the reporting teachers were never spoken to or questioned by the district or the state department after the reports were filed.
The teachers who reported the testing irregularities did so knowing that they were doing the right thing. Despite the treatment they have received from the state department, the school district, their Principal, and some colleagues, they continue to know that they did the right thing.
Noisy speed tables
The Town Board of Minden collectively has chosen to speed hump my residence of 25 years. The quiet and peaceful use of our home has been greatly diminished by the wump-wump rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr wump-wump rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr of cars and trucks,the majority of which are bypassing Higway 395, crossing and accelerating from the monstrosity directly in front of our front door. The board and staff have transferred the perceived neighborhood problem to our front door to the diminish-ment of our property value and use. We can no longer leave our front door open to enjoy the breeze. This is not how a civilized government is supposed to work. Can the board and staff please find a reasonable solution to our 24-hours-a-day-seven-day-a week distress?
As Medicare celebrates its 50th year, it's the perfect time to reflect upon the difference Medicare has made in the lives of retires. When Medicare was signed into law on July 30th 1965, only about half of our nation's seniors had health insurance. Before then, whenever uninsured seniors had health problems, they faced an impossible choice. Risk financial ruin by seeking necessary care or avoid treatment altogether and watch their health deteriorate. Thanks to Medicare, nearly all of our nation's seniors now have guaranteed health coverage.
The success of the Medicare program is clear. It has vastly improved the quality of life for millions of older Americans and allowed retirees to spend their later years in comfort and security. It has kept countless seniors from being thrown into poverty by the high cost of medical bills.
There has been a lot of talk in Washington lately about cutting Medicare benefits, further means testing the program, and shifting costs to seniors. These changes would be a disaster for our nation's current and future retirees. Medicare has been a cornerstone of retirement security for the last half-century. We owe it to future generations to keep the Medicare program strong and healthy.
Jo Etta Brown, Executive Vice President
Alliance for Retired Americans
Great soccer camp
Our son had the privilege of attending the annual, summer DHS Soccer Camp hosted by Douglas High School Girls' Soccer. What an amazing group of young women and coaches. To earn monies for their team, the DHS Girls' Soccer teams spent three summer days with kids from the Carson Valley. Not only did they teach soccer skills and manage innumerable scrimmage games; these ladies were responsible, kind, and exceptional role models for impressionable younger soccer players. Our son informed us just this morning that he now knows how to tie his cleats "the soccer way." Indeed, it was not just soccer they were coaching on the fields. The Carson Valley is a better place for young students like these. Thanks to the coaches, the various parent volunteers, and the fantastic role models these ladies presented this week.
Craig and Karen Berger
Thank your carrier
It was another relaxing morning. I got up, started the coffee, retrieved the paper from the mailbox, and sat at my patio table enjoying the quiet of the morning with my paper and coffee. This is my daily ritual. And one of the primary reasons I'm able to enjoy this ritual each day is my newspaper carrier.
I've never met my newspaper carrier. I think I might have heard his-her car before. But I'm not sure as I was pretty much asleep. But they come every day. If it's threatening rain, the paper is in a plastic bag to protect from the elements.
I had a morning newspaper route when I was growing up in Massachusetts. I promise you, there was more than one morning when I just wanted to sleep in, and not deliver the newspapers. But, it never happened. When you have the morning route, you get up when everyone else is asleep and deliver their paper so they can have their morning ritual, the same one I enjoy daily.
If you are reading this, while listening to the birds and drinking your coffee and enjoying your daily ritual, thank your newspaper carrier. Maybe he/ she would have rathered slept in this morning, but they didn't.