Pair appointed to Carson City utility-oversight panel
February 19, 2014
Controversy came to Carson City's new Utility Financial Oversight Committee even before it organized Tuesday.
Don Wilson, who lives near Empire Ranch Golf Course, testified before the committee chose a chairman about his concern with reports city government might purchase the golf course property due to a bankruptcy. He questioned using sewer-rate-hike revenues to buy the course so it can continue taking city wastewater effluent. As Wilson put it:
"My question now becomes, How many of the Carson City residents who are affected by these now and future sewer-rate increases would be comfortable with the idea that their money will be going towards putting a Band-Aid fix on our current facility, rather than making the necessary upgrades to bring it into the 21st century?"
Wilson said he had met with some members of the Board of Supervisors, and that he and his wife, Peggy, are concerned about the possible purchase.
The board listened, but the matter wasn't on the meeting agenda and couldn't be addressed. The agenda called for electing officers and a preview of the committee's future oversight work. Ande Engleman, appointed by Supervisor Karen Abowd, was chosen to chair the committee and Mark Turner, named by Supervisor Jim Shirk, was elected vice chairman.
Another mild problem cropped up even before Engleman was chosen as chair. Joe Ward of the District Attorney's Office said there was a question as to whether Supervisor Brad Bonkowski's appointee, Mark Rotter, could serve because he isn't a registered voter in the city. A former resident, he now lives in Washoe County and has a business in Carson City.
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Ward later said a check determined the city's charter bars Rotter from serving. Rotter then said he would step aside as a voting member so Bonkowski could name someone else, but would serve the panel in a non-voting capacity to provide advice if that's what other members wanted. They voiced support for his idea.
Engleman, taking note of the earlier Wilson testimony, asked that the Empire Ranch matter appear on the committee's next agenda. The next meeting was set for March 25.
The committee was formed to help supervisors now and in coming years stick to plans for retaining reserves for future utility capital investments. Staffers said some 20 years ago, previous supervisors hadn't retained rates at a level ensuring adequate reserves.