The Pioche Town Board met on Feb. 19.
Vice Charman Cameron Boyce was absent.
During public comment, Carol White addressed the board. She stated that moving the Pioche Public Utilities’ (PPU) office to the town hall is premature at this time considering no one knows what is going to happen regarding the electrical study or what PPU’s role will be in the future. She asked for an update regarding the electrical study’s completion.
Town manager Nathan Adams replied that he has not heard from the engineer in about two weeks and has left messages.
White then added that she has concerns with the snow not being cleared off the sidewalk at the town hall in front of the side door, creating a safety issue, particularly in terms of handicapped access. Adams clarified that the handicapped entrance is clear.
White noted that she does not feel the town board should take any action on hiring a utility worker at this time because an employee would have no equipment to operate. She suggested that the manager’s report be at the top of future meeting agendas for individuals who do not wish to sit through a whole meeting but would like to hear the manager’s report.
County Planning Director Cory Lytle then addressed the board regarding unsafe and unsightly properties around the community. The county commissioners voted against an abatement ordinance that was proposed for the county to clean things up. Instead, the county would like to send out notices to get property owners to volunteer to do the cleanup themselves.
Lytle would like to use Pioche as a guinea pig, in terms of a community cleanup. He can get a few bins to place if property owners will allow it, and he also is willing to cover the cost of the bins and the disposal.
Lytle further discussed the possibility of the town paying for an honor camp crew to assist in the cleanup, making safety and fire hazards a top priority. It was decided that the issue will be placed on a future agenda for further discussion.
Lytle also thanked Adams and Chairman Tom Brown for quickly responding and resolving an issue with his uncle’s flooded basement.
Bill Brown, owner of a small farm down in the flats, south of 8-Mile Farm, was next to address the board. There are three wells on the 8-Mile Farm property. Brown expressed concern about the water levels and explained the property has small irrigation rights at this time, along with a production well. He noted that he is uncertain about how leasing 300 acre ft. of water will impact him or the town in terms of water rights and property values. He questioned whether the state water engineer would be willing to allow this to move forward.
Brown requested the board consider some monitoring and more research before making a final decision.
District Attorney Dylan Frehner stated that he agrees with Brown; it would be nice to have some monitoring in place, and it is something that would be helpful in the long run. There was a discussion regarding the cost of monitoring. Adams noted that the PPU wells are already monitored monthly and see very little fluctuation.
Frehner explained different lease agreement options the board has including cost, amount of water and length of lease. The board and Adams discussed the benefits that will need to be included in the lease agreement to benefit the community. No immediate action was taken on the matter.
Adams then read the financial report. He noted various scheduled pole change-outs in April. He also reported that he has not yet had time to research the matter of relocating the PPU office, which would involve pulling out the stage.
Brown asked other the board members to review Caselton’s monthly breakdown of expenses.
Office Manager Kelbee Cheeney explained the changes made to seasonal employee job descriptions. She stated that she wasn’t able to get the labor agreement completed. Frehner and the board discussed the different labor agreements for individual employees, the employee handbook and personnel policy. These need to be in line with the counties policy, but salaries will be decided by the board instead of following county salaries.
The county personnel policy will be updated by the commission sometime in March.
After further discussion, Frehner suggested the job descriptions include the salary range of the position. The motion was carried.
Adams stated that he would like to hire a seasonal utility worker paid the same as Utility Worker 1, rather than minimum wage. He does not want this position to be confused with summer help. The board discussed seasonal Utility Worker 1’s job description and pay scale. It will be further discussed at the next board meeting.
Adams explained the monthly, weekly and daily duties of office employees and utility workers. He noted that being down one employee has a large impact on productivity and project completion.
A motion for Adams to advertise and hire a seasonal worker was carried.
Adams further discussed the impact weather conditions have on daily responsibilities, customer issues and wear and tear on vehicles. The board and Adams discussed how to eliminate snow and rain falling in front of the handicapped-accessible door at the town hall.
Board member John Christian suggested sending the road department a thank-you letter for plowing roads and keeping the roads clear while the Nevada Department of Transportation was responding to more pressing concerns, and a similar letter to the Honor Camp and Nevada Division of Forestry supervisor for keeping sidewalks and driveways clear.
Future agenda items will include a resolution to satisfy NRS 533.500 pertaining to the possibility of leasing water rights, hiring for seasonal Utility Worker 1 position, labor agreement, letters for community cleanup and a special meeting for the electrical engineer study.
The meeting was then adjourned.