Column: Skip public forums and you live with the results

I wish more residents would attend their local advisory board meetings.

Admittedly, these sessions can sometimes be a tedious challenge to ones' patience. Following necessary and proper government procedures is not always an exciting endeavor to watch. However, aside from offering local residents an opportunity to air their personal concerns, these public forums offer the opportunity to hear from and question county representatives. Here is a potpourri of issues discussed at the most recent Dayton Regional Advisory Council meeting:

- Fees at the Dayton Transfer Station: An advisory board member said he wants consistency in how rates are charged. I agree with his statement that, "There should be standards - $14 for a load of weeds is ridiculous."

He wants answers. How many of you use this facility and are charged different rates for similar types of loads?

- Mia's Swiss Restaurant sign controversy: As the local County Commissioner and member of the Comstock District Commission gave his monthly update on the status of the issue, he was interrupted by an individual proclaiming to be the "one and only mediator" for Mia's. This individual charged that, since there would be a counter suit by the owners, any further discussion of this issue would be a violation of the open meeting law and could result in those speaking on the issue being subpoenaed for future testimony.

There may a counter suit, but let me inform this "mediator" - as long as no action is taken, any resident may bring up this, or any other topic not on the agenda, for public discussion. Information on issues may also be offered, without violation of the open meeting law. This has been a difficult enough issue without it being complicated and muddied with intimidating tactics.

- The explosion at Advanced Specialty Gases: Several residents were present to express concern and ask questions of the district fire chief. Discussion got emotional at times. The resident who suggested the experts be allowed to do their jobs before making judgment spoke the wisest words.

- The county agreeing to build the Rolling A Sewer Treatment Facility:

According to the commissioner present, the county is taking over because the developers are not building it as the county wishes.

He explained the sudden change in direction by saying that, unfortunately, the agreement (utilities development agreement signed with the developers in October 1999) was settled in the hallway and the developer decided to do it the cheapest way he can.

I do not necessarily disagree with the county taking over the construction of future water related infrastructure, but I think the locally affected residents should have been informed and had the opportunity to ask questions - before it was slated for final action at a county commissioner meeting in Yerington.

I am very concerned with the absence of information and with the absolute lack of public debate, including by the commissioners as they made their decisions on Aug. 3, over the pros and cons of the move. I have lost track of the number of months and years that went into negotiating the agreement with Stanton Park and Rolling A developers, and now the county (at the request of Lyon County Utilities) suddenly decides it is a great idea for the utilities to get into the business of borrowing money to build wastewater treatment facilities.

One does have to wonder who is running the show. When the county cannot control the quality of a construction project they have spent months negotiating a contract for and say the unacceptable quality is the reason for building it themselves, the public should, and did, ask who is boss.

- Spending habits of the Utilities Division and the need for a County Engineer:

Residents noted the Utility Division's current fleet of new vehicles, impending fee increase and the commissioners' recent approval of a contract for a third consulting engineer.

The need for engineering services is increasing, but isn't that why the county decided to create the position of county engineer? Since the position was created, however, the number of firms used as consulting engineers has increased from one to three.

Residents are still being told, however, that the hiring of a county engineer has saved "lots of money" and instead of doing things in a reactionary manner, the county now does things with a purpose.

Like making agreements in hallways, no doubt.

- Among other topics of discussion: The lack of parking in old Dayton; responsibility for maintaining Lakes Boulevard and other deteriorating roads with in the development; responsibility for the watering of the median on Dayton Valley Road.

Yes, some meetings can be tedious to sit through, but thanks should go to those who do take the time to attend and serve. Without questions and debate at the local level, the business of this county might never be known but to a chosen few.

It is your choice.

Think about it.


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