On Jan. 6, 2014, in anticipation of getting increased possessory use taxes from the Air Force for Area 51, the Board of County Commissioners cleverly disguised their agenda item to appear as a simple housekeeping measure, when, in fact, they voted on a resolution to place these excess taxes in a special revenue fund?s capital improvement account, Fund 92, to use at their discretion. That means, the taxes are allocated in order to comply with State law, but their resolution allows them to transfer all monies apportioned to the general fund, the County Indigent fund, the museum, the library and the senior nutrition program into their slush fund. Once monies are deposited into this fund, they can only be used for the Board?s pet projects, not for emergencies, not for acts of God, not for anything? I believe this action to be patently illegal and not just because the resolution bore no resemblance to the published agenda item.
Commissioner Phillips reported at this meeting that the Auditor?s most recent pie chart indicated the County spent 80 percent of its budget on salaries and 20 percent on services and supplies and that zero was spent on capital improvements. He doesn?t want the increased possessory use taxes, the difference between $95,000 and about $500,000, to go into the maw of salaries and compensation even though he acknowledges these are ?legitimate and reasonable? costs. Instead, Phillips would like to see the County invest in a jail expansion which he declares will ?make the County money in the long run.?
Perhaps Phillips doesn?t know that all monies taken in by the Detention Center as payment for warehousing inmates from outside Lincoln County are deposited into an Enterprise Fund and cannot be used for any purpose other than Detention Center operations. This fund will only pay salaries for staff whose responsibilities are directly related to the jail?s inmate operations. He also did not acknowledge the County will still have to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the expansion and pay the salaries of the patrol officers out of the general fund.
It was acknowledged the County sorely needs capital improvements in the areas of flood control, wash repairs, senior center repairs, etc., but Paul Donohue stated his belief these matters should be addressed in the budget process and that he did not deem it wise to attach these taxes in this way in light of the County?s insolvent state if they had not received PUT?s a few days prior to this meeting, the General Funds balance would have been about $40,000 in the red on the day they passed this vote. Contrary to advice other elected officials and Donohue, the board voted to approve the resolution with changes to be made by Daniel Hooge to clarify how monies to be transferred and to mandate that Ashley Hall?s gift was the only money to remain in the general fund(s). Paul Mathews was absent for this vote.
On Jan. 21, 2014, once again disguising the agenda item as a housekeeping measure and, again, violating the Nevada Open Meeting Laws, the board met to vote on the Resolution 2014-01, mandating ?the Treasurer shall allocate to the Lincoln County Land Act of 2000 special revenue fund (fund 92), all monies received from the Federal Government for possessory use taxes. This shall include only those funds that otherwise would be apportioned to the general county fund.? Paul Donohue voted against the resolution.
On Sept. 15, this year, the board met to affect the transfer of possessory use taxes from the various funds, but did not take any action, as the wording in their resolution now mandates transfer of all PUT?s, not just the ?excess.? As it stands, the Board refused to rescind the resolution and has tabled the matter.
In related news, Daniel Hooge completed negotiations with the Hospital District, the School District and the Fire District, but the details of the illegally negotiated agreements have not been made public yet. The State of Nevada is the authority to determine apportionment of these taxes.
It is my belief Daniel Hooge intends to withhold this information as long as possible in order to prevent the public and/or the tax commission from gaining access prior to his appearance before that body on Oct. 6 this year. I?ve been told by a learned judge that until the agreements have been signed and executed, they are not public records.
It is my belief that, from the date the County signed their agreement with Ashley Hall [& Associates], that Kevin Phillips, Ed Higbee, Daniel Hooge, Vaughn Higbee and Ashley Hall have carried out a carefully crafted plot to prevent the Assessor and Treasurer from taking part in their diabolical enterprise in direct conflict with the terms and conditions of the actual agreement. I further believe the exclusion of the Treasurer and Assessor was necessitated by the fact the co-conspirators knew these officials would not agree to their means and methods and refuse to take part in their illegal acts. I can only imagine the extent of the harassment, intimidation and coercion brought to bear against these individuals in an attempt to gain the secret committee? desired results.
Hats off to the Treasurer, the Assessor, the Recorder, the County Clerk and Paul Donohue for bringing a high level of personal integrity and a strong defense of the laws of Nevada and the best interests of the people to uphold their oaths of office.
For your information, the next Commissioner?s meeting will be on Friday Oct. 3 at 9 a.m. I urge you to attend this meeting to voice your concerns regarding the board?s abuse of power in the passage of this resolution and the boards overstepping their authority in the Ashley Hall matters.
Carol White, Pioche