FERNLEY - Fernley almost could ring in the new year with its first mayor if voters approve to incorporate the town as a city in the Nov. 7. election.
The Lyon County Commission must set a special election to elect a mayor and city council 60 to 120 days following the general election if more than half the ballots cast approve Question 14 calling for Fernley incorporation.
Incorporation for Fernley, however, would not take hold until July 1, said Debra Brazell, chair of the Fernley Incorporation Committee.
"The sense is (the elections) is going to go very well," Brazell said. "I would say more than half the people agree with incorporation but you just don't know."
Fernley residents made two earlier efforts to incorporate the town but this is the first time the question reached the ballot. Incorporation efforts in 1994 and 1996 fell short of the required signatures in the initial petition drives.
The 1999 petition carried 1,330 valid signatures with 1,196 signatures required for the incorporation process to proceed.
Since then, the Nevada Taxation Department and its Committee on Local Government Finance plus the Lyon County Commission all found incorporation financially feasible for Fernley.
The assessed value of Fernley has soared from $91 million to $212 million since 1995 with the development of the Nevada Pacific Industrial Park. Fernley's assessed valuation makes up nearly a third of the entire assessed value fo Lyon County, $672 million.
Fernley's assessed value is larger than eight other cities and six counties in Nevada, county commission chairman LeRoy Goodman said earlier this year.
Even so, Brazell said, Fernley doesn't have near the frills that Fallon has.
"Our assessed valuation is two times what the valuation is in Fallon," Brazell said. "They have sidewalks, curbs and gutters and storm drainage. Fernley doesn't. Why? There's no reason Fernley shouldn't have these things."
The incorporation committee for more than a year has spread the message to residents that more tax revenue goes to the county seat in Yerington than returns to Fernley. Becoming a city would give more local control to what happens with tax dollars, committee members have said.
The incorporation committee told the state Taxation Department that the intention is to maintain the same property tax rate if Fernley becomes a city.
Calculations show that Fernley's tax revenue should easily supply the city's needs, Brazell said.
The Town of Fernley presently levies $2.858 per $100 assessed valuation. By law, the maximum Fernley could levy is $3.4104. If the city at a later date taxed its residents at the maximum rate, the property tax bill would increase from $1,000.30 to $1,193.64 on a $100,000 home.
If incorporation wins at the ballot, the subsequently elected mayor and city council would negotiate with Lyon County to establish an interlocal agreement determining whether city or county would supply various services.
Duties of the newly elected council would include filing the articles of incorporation, adopting a budget, adopting ordinances, levy an ad valorem tax, negotiate contracts to hire personnel, provide services and purchase equipment.
"I think people have decided one way or another," Brazell said. "I think they're ready to make a decision."