This is a guest post by Pamela Galloway in the form of a letter to John Slaughter (county manager) regarding the proposal for a new $50M bond to improve and expand sewer infrastructure in Pleasant Valley. AGENDA (see item 13) MAP
Request for far more high-quality information on agenda items (thank you)
Dear select commissioners and County Manager Slaughter:
When this item came up yesterday, several citizens testified they were concerned about this, about access to agenda information (staff report), and what it involves. In response, they were told no one is being required to hook up to sewer, it has no impact on southern septic tank residents, it will be paid for 100% by new hookups, developers.
Commissioner Hartung emphasized the importance of bringing the southern sewer treatment plant up to grade A (or more) – the best possible. (Please tell me he doesn’t want us to drink it. We had to drink geothermal water in the summertime for 10 years or more to accommodate new growth so I just want to make sure.) It was emphasized that this will come before the Board of County Commissioners a number of times. A spokeswoman said in addition to improvements of existing facilities, another facility will be constructed by the old Brown School (NE corner of Geiger Grade at U.S. 395). I write all this knowing you were present but for the benefit of citizens who were not. Citizens who spoke during public comment included Bill Naylor of Washoe Valley and Ginger Pierce, representing Pleasant/Steamboat homeowners. Clearly important information is lacking about this, causing concern.
I always advocate for the most sunshine possible. In that regard, and because $50 million is a tremendous amount of money, I suggest this:
The next time this is on the agenda, please provide a line item description of what the $50 million is for, in detail so we all understand these expenses. Please provide information about who the developers are, associated with what developments, that would pay for this. Also, please make sure that the staff reports are accessible with the links. If not, I ask that you just include this in the agenda item. (Sometimes I click on the link and nothing happens.) Who is paying how much, up front or when? In terms of relining the southern treatment plant reservoirs, I received an email from one community activist asking whether or not we just paid to have this done about 10 years ago. So I ask that this question be answered, too, for her sake.
All governments need to aim for as much transparency and accountability as possible on agenda items. (Ditto pay raises and other compensation. This does not get discussed much during budgets every year. When I was PIO of higher education I listed all the salaries, pay raises, listed every top official in the university system, including presidents and vice presidents, and outlined their perks such as cars, host accounts, etc. Nothing was hidden or glossed over.) I think we should list every union and what it is receiving, including any new benefits.
Thanks very much for your time and attention to this request. Rural residents in the south sounded an alarm about this item several days ago (SaveRuralNevadaInfo) and clearly we all want to know what the future holds for us. We are experiencing a way and quality of life vanish rapidly, and do not want to see any dense development enveloping the rural, pastoral valleys to the south of Geiger Grade and Mt. Rose Highway. I’m sure you can understand that when we hear $50 million in bonds for sewer improvements/Pleasant Valley, alarm bells go off. We often hear nothing about developments until they are far down the line and all the planners and commissioners know what is coming but the citizens are not informed in a timely manner.
It might have been more understandable to see Reno bonding for the North Valleys, but we of course might need to be educated about this. It is better to err on the side of too much information than too little.
Thanks very much. And thank you for your service benefitting the general public. I know it can’t be easy and I do appreciate your efforts.
Pamela E. Galloway Virginia Foothills
(Washoe County, NV)