ResIdents of Pioche, BEWARE! The Town Board Chairperson made a presentation to the Board of County Commissioners at their May 15, 2017, meeting to disclose the town board?s recommendations for the dissolution of Pioche Public Utilities. The Town Board has been researching this subject for over 18 months with the assistance of Dan MacArthur. The groundwork for these recommendations is said to have been ?countless? pages, but the town board chose to submit only a one page recommendation, with one member of the Board stating he did not believe it would be good to give the residents of Pioche any further info as it would only serve to confuse us.
I personally have several issues with the process and the attitude that we should simply accept this dissolution without knowing the facts. It is said that Lincoln County Power District would take over the utility side of our services and the Lincoln County Water District would take over all water and sewer services.
Some of the Town Board members want to hurry and have public hearings without providing the residents with answers to pertinent questions – for instance, what happens to the town?s water rights when they are transferred to the Water District. Are we really saving any money by taking utility control out of the hands of the Town and relinquishing authority and accountability to these other two entities. If the staff is to be transferred to the Water District, how will local services be provided, i.e. parks, burials, etc.
The Town Board voted yesterday to allow concerned citizens access to documents only in their offices during business hours prior to the meetings.
Daniel Hooge stated at the May 15 commissioners meeting a straw poll would not be adequate to demonstrate the will of the residents and suggested this item be placed on the ballot for the next election, but the Town Board is adamantly against this process, stating they just want it to be over with.
Ironically, Dan Mac Arthur has failed to return phone calls from the PPU staff and cannot be reached to schedule these meetings. To schedule these meetings without Mr. Mac Arthur or Mr. Hooge in attendance to support the Town Board?s recommendations seems fruitless. However, some members of the Board are willing to have a ?question? night and come back a week later with the answers to the resident?s questions.
Why the rush. Who will benefit. Perhaps only the water district, as if these recommendations are approved by the commissioners and water rights are transferred to that entity they will then meet some legal requirement that will allow them to dispense with the county commissioners as their governing body and will then elect a new board to oversee their operations. Is this all about a water grab by the district? One need wonder when the advisory board is so reluctant to disclose the motivations behind these actions.
One Board member attempted to voice his opinion that the three choices presented are not by a long shot the only options to solve this dilemma, but the Board members were not willing to discuss those options.
I do not pretend to understand all the issues, but I am alarmed at the Town Board?s reluctance to educate the residents of Pioche about what is happening. Sure, we could all go and sit through countless meetings, but I would not understand why the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, along with the Utility Manager, were allowed to select the options to be presented to the commissioners.