Why Gardnerville is represented on RTC
With the controversy over funding design work on Muller Lane Parkway, the Regional Transportation Commission has been thrust into the spotlight.
Douglas County is seeking applicants to replace Gardnerville resident Dan Hamer on the three-person board through 5 p.m. Jan. 15. Hamer’s term expired with the end of 2020.
The composition of the commission in counties with no incorporated cities is set by state law. Under the statute, the membership consists of two members of the Board of County Commissioners and one representative of the public, “who is a resident of the largest town, if any, in the county.”
According to the Nevada state demographer, Gardnerville had a population of 6,036 as of July 1, 2019. That doesn’t make it anywhere near the county’s largest community.
The Census put the Gardnerville Ranchos at 11,312 people in 2010, making it the most populous Census Designated Place in the county. Even Johnson Lane had more people than Gardnerville in 2010.
However, the legal distinction is that Gardnerville is an unincorporated town, whereas the Gardnerville Ranchos is a general improvement district.
Douglas is home to 17 general improvement districts, more per capita than any other county in the state.
General improvement districts essentially serve as municipal governments with similar powers. The Gardnerville Ranchos, Indian Hills, Kingsbury and Topaz Ranch estates are among the largest. Other districts have specific purposes like the East Fork and Tahoe-Douglas fire protection districts or the East Fork Swimming Pool District. All have their own taxing authorities and most have an independently elected board of directors.
While Ranchos residents could petition county commissioners to become a town, that would actually result in a loss of some of the district’s autonomy.
Douglas County’s three unincorporated towns are advisory to the county commission, though they do provide a number of services to their inhabitants.
Any community that successfully incorporated would take the third seat on the RTC, but under state law that would be a member of the new city’s governing body.
In Nevada, cities may be formed either by petition and referendum or by Legislative action. A bill to incorporate Indian Hills died in the 2005 Legislature. That bill would have put incorporation on the ballot.
There are only 19 incorporated cities in Nevada with Fernley the last to be formed in 2001. An incorporated Ranchos would be the 11th largest city in the state, according to figures with the 2010 Census. Figures for the 2020 Census have yet to be released.
Additional information and application forms for the RTC are available in the County Manager’s Office at the Minden Inn, 1594 Esmeralda Avenue in Minden (775) 782-9821 or on the Douglas County website http://www.douglascountynv.gov.