Storey County discusses expanding industrial center's improvement area

VIRGINIA CITY - Expansion of Tahoe Reno Industrial Center General Improvement District services and a Storey County brothel ordinance moved a step closer to implementation on Tuesday.

Tahoe Reno Industrial Center's GID was initially formed to provide for the delivery of electricity, but its role is being expanded to include sewer and water systems.

"(Under previous regulations) Sierra Pacific would have been our only choice, but since deregulation we have the latitude to use someone else," Storey County Commissioner Charles Haynes said.

The improvement district wants to include the services at no expense to taxpayers. Fees would ultimately fall on companies located within the park, but until the center has filled up, developers would absorb the costs.

A second hearing on the matter is slated for the Aug. 1 commissioners meeting.

Located eight miles east of Sparks, the first phase of the center is presently under construction. It is slated to hold 63 million square feet of industrial space - more than exists in Northern Nevada. At least six companies are located at the site, and several more have been approved.

The park is located on about 10,800 acres near the Truckee River on the northern portion of the former Asamera Ranch property in Storey and Lyon Counties.

In other business, second readings for a prostitution ordinance and work card ordinance were approved. The new ordinances will be in effect after being published twice.

The ordinances are being rewritten in the wake of a Nevada Supreme Court ruling stating the county violated brothel owner David Burgess' right to free association when it yanked his brothel, liquor and boarding house licenses for the Old Bridge Ranch. Burgess associates with a motorcycle gang.

Also at the meeting, St. Mary's HealthFirst, insurance providers for Storey County employees, submitted a rate increase of about $20,000 a month effective Sept. 1.

Under a new policy, rates would increase from about $22,000 to $42,000 per month for the same coverage. Commissioners ultimately settled for the alternative: reduced benefits at $28,000 per month, but not after some objections.

Commissioner Carl Trink called the $20,000 increase highway robbery.

"I would like to have seen something sooner," Commissioner Greg "Bum" Hess said, noting he would like to research other options.

But according to independent insurance agent Carol Ingalls, there was no time to negotiate. The $28,000 rate would be available for only a limited time. Ingalls, who handles insurance for the county, argued that the commissioners were presented alternatives in June.

"They (employees) will still get excellent medical care, but they will no longer have the freedom to choose physicians," Carol Ingalls said.

She noted there were a lot of medical conditions with very large, high claims in Storey County. As a result, St. Mary's bore a100 percent loss ratio for the first three years of coverage. Storey County is far from unique: Winnemucca, Lovelock, and Carson City have had similar problems in the recent past.

"That is just the way it is in Nevada: very, very high," Ingalls said. "We tend to be a little more expensive, and nobody knows why."

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