Talk of becoming a city is in the air in Fernley

FERNLEY - Spring training for efforts to turn Fernley into a city ends today for the Fernley Incorporation Committee.

Now comes the estimated 18-month grind to determine if this community meets all the requirements to become a city. Plus, the people have to formally approve cityhood at the ballot box in about a year.

The petition drive for the past 90 days simply served as a community proposal to formally launch the incorporation process. This drive brought Fernley as close to becoming a city as spring training brings a baseball team to the World Series.

"This is an 18-month process," said Tom Grady, executive director of the Nevada League of Cities. "This is not an easy process to go through."

If successful, Fernley would become Nevada's 19th incorporated city. The last successful incorporation was when West Wendover became a city in 1991.

By 2:09 p.m. today, the Fernley Incorporation Committee intends to submit petitions with about 1,900 signatures to the Lyon County Clerk in Yerington. The clerk will then have 30 days to verify that the signatures belong to registered voters living within the Fernley town limits.

"People are getting their hopes back that they will have control of their community," said Debra Brazell, who is leading the incorporation effort. "They really want somebody watching over them who is willing to take care of things."

Two previous incorporation drives failed earlier in the 1990s. Since then industry has made a foothold in Fernley with firms like UPS Worldwide Services, Quebecor and, and Scolari's just announced building a new supermarket and shopping center.

Fernley has a town board but most major decisions are made 48 miles away by the Lyon County Commission in Yerington.

"There are staunch people against incorporation," Brazell said, "but the general feel is people are worried about money not staying here paying for growth. They're worried about not having enough services here. A lot of people have said 'we quit going to town meetings because we can't get anything done.'"

The incorporation committee needs 1,255 valid signatures to launch to a formal feasibility study to determine if tax revenue in the community can support a city. Until Sunday, Brazell said it was too close to call if they would have enough valid signatures, even 1,600 signatures on petitions.

A weekend rush built the total to 1,900 signatures.

A random sampling showed that about one-third of the signatures did not belong to registered voters listed on the September rolls. Brazell added, though, that the justice court reported registering between one and five voters a day since the petition drive started Sept. 22.

"Justice court ran out of voter registration cards Friday," Brazell said. "I feel safe about having enough signatures now."

Once the county clerk confirms the petition is valid, the Lyon County Commission has 30 days to determine the sufficiency of the petition.

The feasibility of incorporation will be determined by an 11-member committee of local government finance. The Nevada League of Cities will appoint three city officials to the committee, the Nevada Association of Counties will appoint three county officials, the Nevada School Trustees Association will name three members and the State Board of Accountancy will supply two certified public accountants.

This committee works closely with the Nevada Department of Taxation to determine if the tax revenue in Fernley can support a city government.

The committee's report then gets submitted to the county commission and the people of Fernley may then set an election to decide if Fernley indeed will become a city.

"They can do it by 2001," Grady said. "From what I have heard, it looks positive. But until you go to a vote of the people, you don't know."


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