Supervisors ponder: Who’s in control?
Carson City supervisors are asking whether the mayor should have the ultimate power – regardless of board member requests – to delay or deny placing decisions on the public agenda.
Last year, a local nonprofit group asked the city to allow commercial projects on a 3-acre parcel it owned in one of Carson City’s pricier neighborhoods. The change would bump up the land value considerably, allowing the club to sell it and build a new youth center across town.
The group’s plans hinged on a decision by the Board of Supervisors. But the mayor put it off – despite requests by supervisors, two of them said Monday.
Neighbors in the Silver Oak area were outraged by the plan, fearing a new owner would open a tavern, liquor outlet or convenience store. But after a divisive debate, the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada jumped through its final hoop in February 2003, getting Planning Commission approval.
Before it could be finalized, the city’s Board of Supervisors had to approve it. A number of city supervisors asked that the decision be placed on the next month’s meeting agenda, but the mayor took it off.
“He felt he had the last word and ultimate control and I don’t agree,” said Supervisor Robin Williamson.
The decision was instead heard several weeks later and the zone change was approved. Mayor Ray Masayko was the sole vote against it.
“I am concerned the rifts and the chasms will not be soon healed,” Masayko said at the April 2003 meeting.
A committee reviewing the city’s charter is now considering rules that would allow supervisors to place items on the agenda with a two-thirds majority with or without the mayor’s consent.
“I think we need to probably just clarify who’s role and responsibility it is,” Williamson said. “Usually there’s no problem at all. Just minor things have come up.”
The city’s Board of Supervisors does not have bylaws that dictate its rules of operation and relies on a state-granted charter.
Masayko said he doesn’t remember any issues in the past with supervisors over agenda items. Usually, the city manager decides the agenda and he approves it a day before it is published. However, he does have a problem when someone wants to change the agenda after it is set, he said.
“It sounds like a tempest in a teapot to me,” Masayko said.
Supervisor Pete Livermore said he doesn’t want to take the power away from the mayor, but wants the city to establish “fair and equitable ground rules.”
Board members asked the city’s district attorney for clarification about the rules after concern surfaced over the mayor’s ability to delay the Boys and Girls Club decision.
“Should there be a defined, clear understanding of the process? I don’t think it would hurt,” Livermore said.
City supervisors appointed representatives for the Charter Review Committee, a group that meets every two years to review how rules are written and change them.
Committee Chairwoman Donna DePauw said the group plans to review the mayor’s authority at its next meeting and possibly suggesting changing the rules to allow three supervisors who are in agreement to place an issue on the agenda with or without the mayor’s consent. DePauw encourages the public to attend the committee’s meetings.
“In the charter, it doesn’t state that the mayor has the option to put anything he wants on the agenda or not,” DePauw said. “I think it needs to be looked at.”
Any changes to the charter would need to be approved by the Board of Supervisors, then forwarded to the state Legislature.
Contact Jill Lufrano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217