Lincoln County’s Board of Commissioners officially said it would not support any Area 51 type events in 2020, like the ones that took place in Sept. 2019.
Jared Brackenbury made a motion for a resolution that was approved unanimously by the five-member board.
It was part of the agenda item for discussion on Area 51 special events in 2020, if any, and the need for making changes in the county’s special events policy.
Commission chair Varlin Higbee said if promoters do want to do something in 2020, “They will have to do it on their own, not the county.”
That means event organizers would have to foot the entire bill for events, including security, sanitation, promotion, food and souvenir vendors, law enforcement and all other related costs.
The board’s decision is likely tied in part to the nearly $250,000 the county had to spend in 2019 for the Storm Area 51 event, and Governor Sisolak’s reluctance to reimburse the county for monies spent under the emergency declaration.
Sisolak has not shown much interest in requests for reimbursement from Lincoln and Nye counties, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, particularly Lincoln County officials who approved permits for events in the tiny towns of Rachel and Hiko and allocated emergency funds for possible crowds of 30,000 responding to an internet hoax about finding aliens.
“I don’t know how this was an emergency when you gave an approval despite our concerns regarding this issue, and then expect the taxpayers of the state to basically bail out your county commission’s approval,” the governor said.
Business owners George Harris of the Alien Research Center at Hiko and Connie West of the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel planned music festivals, with the intent of keeping people from trying to storm the gates of the Nevada Test and Training Range, and county emergency officials prepared for tens of thousands of visitors to the county.
In the end, only about 3,000-5,000 people actually showed up and “for the most part, behaved themselves well,” said County Sheriff Kerry Lee. Both Harris and West said at the time they did plan to have another special event in 2020.
But commissioners made it clear the county doesn’t have the money or the desire to go through something like that again or to even promote such events.
Higbee said in 2019, “We didn’t ask for this, didn’t want this, and only had about six weeks to do our best to plan for what we did not know would happen.”
County Emergency Management director Erik Holt is in the process of compiling a complete spreadsheet report of costs and a reimbursement request.
Commissioner Bevan Lister said the county has notified the state Board of Examiners and the Interim Finance Committee of the county’s intent to seek reimbursement.
The final report will be presented later to the commission board for review and approval, then will be submitted to the state board of examiners and finance committee, after which the request will be passed on to the governor.