John Barrette: Consultant bullish on Carson’s consolidation with Ormsby Co.
It was on April Fool’s Day more than four decades ago, in 1969, that Ormsby County disappeared and a consolidated Carson City government took the helm here.
Nobody was foolin’ around, and we live with the results to this day.
Not exactly news. But what if you could get a look through fresh eyes, so to speak? Well, here are some views from Luke Schmidt of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, a consultant first mentioned a week ago in this space as having visited Carson City to study the historic change.
Schmidt likes consolidation generally and Carson City’s in particular. However, he still studies carefully each place where he checks it for unconsolidated government units considering the change. He scours history and the results objectively for pluses and minuses, checking currently for clients in his home state of Kentucky.
One thing that stuck out for him after his trip was his time with former Mayor Jim Robertson, elected to lead the city in 1963. Schmidt said Robertson, as well as others, told him the outcome of consolidation was everything they’d expected. Schmidt also asked Robertson if there was anything that could or should have been done differently.
“‘At the time,’ Schmidt quoted Robertson as saying, ‘we thought it was the right way to go, and that’s the way I would look at it now.’”
Another thing that stood out for Schmidt was the number of members on the governing board in Carson City. He referred to the five-member Board of Supervisors as a council.
“It’s a relatively small council, in comparison to some others,” he said, giving as an example Athens in Georgia. He said Athens has more than 10 seats on its consolidated governing board. But, he added, Athens has a population of 115,000, and the board doesn’t oversee the considerable open-space area that Carson City’s does.
“You could probably argue that a couple of bears don’t need a council member,” joked the consultant from suburban Louisville.
By the way, though the merger plan in the 1960s garnered widespread support — it was initially approved statewide with a vote of 73,913 to 42,541 on Nov. 5, 1968 — there was opposition.
Former Carson City Mayor Al Autrand, who served in 1961-63, was reported by the Nevada Appeal in the 1960s to have attacked the plan and the many public officials supporting it for “trying to push this thing down people’s throats.”
Because they succeeded, you can watch the five-member governing board in action Thursday beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Sierra Room at the city’s Community Center. Among items up for discussion is a proposal to begin a waste, fraud and abuse government whistle-blower hotline program.
John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at email@example.com.