The Pioche Town Board held a special meeting May 14.

Dan McArthur explained the changes to the budget, the largest being on the two first pages. These pages are a condensed version of the budget that will be submitted to the Department of Taxation. A line item has been added for the reserve funds that were established but cannot be spent without the board’s approval. McArthurs explained that, if contingency funds aren’t spent, the decision will need to be made as to where to transfer the ending balance for next fiscal year.

The balance of $24,000 needs to have a capital improvements plan in place and submitted by Aug. 1. The three utility funds are where most of the changes have been applied. The reserve funds have been created. McAarthur explained when a utility company’s financial statement is sent externally, it has to meet the government accounting standards. All three funds have to be combined for each utility fund. Each utility fund will then show a line item for a reserve fund.

McArthur stated he discussed the utility reserve funds with the county auditor/recorder.

McArthur and the board discussed when and how the reserve funds can be utilized in case of emergencies. Adams and McArthur discussed the requested electrical costs associated with the electrical study.

McArthur discussed how capital improvement funds need to be spent and a plan needs to be implemented to spend the money on the assigned projects within 10 years of receipt.

The parks improvement fund is an account that the board decided to put $10,000 in yearly to build up account for park improvements because this fund does not generate its own revenue. This fund is available for any project concerning park improvements.

The board discussed employee wages and the county Public Employees’ Retiree System increase that is going into effect this year. Adams explained that every year he budgets for a three percent cost of living increase for Pioche Public Utilities employees.

A motion was carried to accept the budget as McArthur presented it.

Regarding the future of Nevada Division of Forestry’s (NDF) rates, contracts and associated costs, Aaron Boyce, Southern Regional Area Supervisor of NDF, addressed the board about changes legislators have made regarding the project agreements with individual communities going forward. An audit and study have been conducted that pertain to the free and reduced rates that NDF is currently using across the state, and to projects that do not fall into the category of the preservation and conservation of Nevada Forests utilized by citizens and visitors. The current agreement with the Town of Pioche will be affected by this decision. Currently, Pioche pays $1,000 for five days a month for a work crew with one supervisor and 10 crew members. That will decrease to three days a month effective July 1, 2019. In fiscal year 20/21, Pioche will pay the state-mandated rate for a crew. Any projects that fall into the category of forestry preservation and fuel reduction will have a 30 percent discount applied to the rate. The rates change yearly and are mandated by the state. Currently, with estimated costs, the daily rate would be approximately $800.

Chairman Brown expressed concern about the increase in rates. Boyce stated that NDF crews are still required to perform five days a year of community service, but those five days will be spread out across the whole county and will be prioritized.

Adams stated crews were originally free to Pioche due to Pioche being the first and only community the Honor Camp was located in. No other counties wanted them in their communities. It was a verbal agreement between the state and the town that crews would work within the town, but nothing was put in writing. The lease the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) has with the county and/or town for the property on which the facility sits is very minimal. Several years ago there was a big push by the county to work out a deal with the NDOC due to threats of closing the Honor Camp if the land lease was increased.

Robistow expressed concern about snow removal that the crews have offered in the past. Joe Liveri, Pioche Camp Supervisor, stated snow removal has been discussed in detail and he has informed Adams how snow removal will be dealt with. Bevan Lister confirmed that Pioche will still get crews this year. Boyce explained the crews will be available three days a month instead of five.

Adams handed out options he researched to possibly fund the repairs to Pioche’s power system. Robistow stated she would like to explore grant options first. McArthur suggested asking the county for assistance with this type of project. The board agreed to research what the contract entails that Caliente has with Lincoln County Power District (LCPD).

Chairman Brown reminded the board that the engineering of the repairs still has to be completed and paid for; that is another very large cost before the project can even start. Christian expressed concern regarding who will complete the engineering and how PPU will maintain a newly designed system.

Adams and the board discussed options for looping the electrical system as addressed within the study. Robistow stated the cost the study estimates is $1,000,000,000.00, which is just to complete the project. The engineering is not factored into the costs, nor is any future maintenance. Adams expressed his concern that the issue needs to be dealt with and not shoved to the back burner.

Chairman Tom Brown asked Adams to set up a meeting with LCPD to research all options available.

During public comment Linda Rollins addressed the board. She expressed appreciation for the board weighing and discussing all options involved concerning the power system and asked if there is any news on the Caselton Water Project. Adams said the state engineer has approved the project and it is on the next board meeting’s agenda for discussion and possible action.

Future agenda items include leasing of water rights, accepting a resolution for reserve funds and accepting a town board polity for reserve funds.