Mary Cordle
It was a full room at the most recent Caliente City Council meeting as the city wrestled with marijuana issues.

Every seat was filled and more seats had to be brought in to accommodate the attendance at the Caliente City Council meeting last Thursday.

Kyle Cox spoke during public comment, saying, “I have no financial interest in my dad’s (Burt Cox) businesses. I also served on the Planning Commission here in Caliente. Thing I want to state is here in Lincoln County we’re always struggling to create jobs and create tax revenue. Same in Caliente and Lincoln County; we love to promote tourism, but to have good tourism you have to support businesses, restaurants, boarding and retail, that sort of thing.”

Kyle Cox said he sees how businesses are struggling in the city.

“You cannot have a strong support industry without a strong economic base. An economic base requires tax revenue and jobs to support that as a whole.” he added, “I think anything the city can do to create jobs and more tax revenue would be a benefit.”

Next Dan McArthur, CPA for the city, gave an account of the audit for the fiscal year 2016-17 to be submitted to the State Department of Taxation. Noticing the large crowd, he asked if everyone was there for him; usually there are maybe a few there to hear his report. Going through all the categories that he is required to audit, he told the council, “I think this is a real clean audit. From my perspective, it looks great. I think the staff is doing a great job for you. I think you made some great decisions as a city council to get this back with all your funds in the black.”

McArthur praised that budgets meeting are held throughout the year, and the agenda and times are posted in the normal spots. This provides a way for residents to know where our money goes and to have input in the city. Councilman Cody Christensen made a motion to accept the audit; Councilman Victor Jones seconded. All voting aye, it passed.

A public hearing for the city to annex 40 acres owned by Burt and Natalie Cox was opened. With no discussion, the hearing was closed. All voting in favor, the measure passed.

Public hearing on Bill 2017-02 Ordinance 183 was opened for comment. This is the ordinance pertaining to recreational marijuana establishments, setting forth the procedures, regulations, and requirements for the issuances of marijuana establishment licenses; establishing fees and taxes required for such licenses; setting forth the rules for recreational marijuana establishments; setting forth the provisions for renewal of such licenses and other related matters.

Mark Zalaoras, an attorney from Las Vegas who has applied for a marijuana establishment licence, said that his group was against the two-mile limit; the location they want to use is next to the Industrial Park but does not meet the two-mile rule. He said the council could control location on a case by case basis. He said his group won’t have a location that qualifies and won’t make the deadline to the state.

“In other words, we’re out. We’d like to be out of the city; we’re working on an annexation plan with the city attorney and the planning board. They have land (referring to John Houston of Rainbow Land and Cattle Company) but it is out of city limits, so we can’t make an application until that annexation process is completed.”

The group from Clover Creek Organics said they were in favor of the two- mile rule. They would not be interested in doing business within the two-mile limit. “I know if I create a business here and put my money here and I build within two miles, I know I’m going to have problems in the future and I could be shut down for the problems.”

John Houston said it creates nearly exclusive group of landowners and will create a monopoly.

Maggie Orr was concerned about the odor and was glad to learn about the limit.

Burt Cox said, “We don’t want it close to town. It is in the best interest to keep two miles. Better safe than sorry.”

Russ Tracy wanted everyone to know he has started a ballot initiative for the county to see if it can overturn the moratorium in the county. There are more places to do it than just in the city. That was the end of the public hearing.

The mayor called for a vote to approve or deny Bill 2017-03 Ordinance 184. The vote was three ayes (Jones and Rowe) and one nay (Christensen).

The possible annexation of land owned by Rainbow Land & Cattle Company, LLC and J&J Family Trust, was withdrawn from the agenda per request from John Houston.

The next meeting will be on Jan. 18.