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What’s ahead for Dayton?

Incorporation again an issue in the fast-growing community

By Karen Woodmansee

Appeal Staff Writer

The accelerated growth Dayton has experienced has caused some residents to think again about becoming an incorporated city or an unincorporated town.

An unincorporated town would allow for the election of town board members who would then assume responsibility for government services except planning and zoning.

An incorporated city would assume responsibility for all government services.

Bob Milz, chairman of the Lyon County Board of Commissioners who represents the Dayton area, is in favor of incorporation as a city.

“Fernley was incorporated because they were ready,” he said. “I believe we’re ready because the income generated here is about one-third of the income generated in the county.”

In 2003, a group called West Lyon County Alliance for Self Government put a measure on the ballot calling for Dayton, Mound House and Silver City to become an unincorporated city, but that effort failed when it went before voters – 58 percent to 42 percent – in November 2004.

Jannette Hoffert, director of Central Lyon County Parks and Recreation, worked on that attempt and said she would support another effort.

“Getting set up as a city is not an easy task,” she said. “We have to have facilities we don’t now have. It’s a big task but at some point we absolutely have to do it.”

Hoffert also would rather Dayton become an incorporated city than an unincorporated town.

“I’m in favor of incorporation because what the community most wants is some control over the building and the growth,” she said.

She said taxes are the biggest downside of incorporation.

“Definitely more taxes would be needed to operate, but the community would have control of its own future,” she said. “But I think we’re ready for it and it would take a burden off of the county, which I think is a plus.”

Milz said he believed incorporation would not increase taxes for Dayton residents unless the authorities in the proposed city decided to build non-essential facilities, such as a swimming pool.

“They will not need to tax additionally,” Milz said. “Fernley did not tax in addition (to county taxes).

Milz admitted that Dayton’s incorporation could cost the county some tax revenue, but thought it would even out after awhile.

“As a home rule, the city makes all the decisions,” he said. “You would have the same authority the county has, but be separate from the county. It would be your own subdivision and you would share in the taxes that the state raises.”

Lyon County Commissioner Leroy Goodman supports Dayton becoming an unincorporated town before becoming an incorporated city.

“As an unincorporated town the town board is elected at the ballot just like the commissioners,” Goodman said. “They would learn how budgets work and how to assess their needs, and then down the road go for incorporation.”

Fernley became an incorporated city on July 1, 2001, after being an unincorporated town for 16 years. Fernley’s population is now more than 17,000, Goodman said, and he estimated Dayton’s at about 12,000.

“They’ve got the tax base and the population,” he said. “They could impose property taxes to build the town hall, put swimming pool measures on the ballot and run the water and sewer districts.”

Goodman said Dayton could create its own police force or contract with the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement, as Fernley does.

Dayton resident Ed Harris opposed the previous effort to become an unincorporated town, but said it was only because riders were attached to the measure that would have increased taxes.

“If it was just becoming unincorporated, bare bones to start with, I could go for it,” he said. “But they wanted to be unincorporated, plus have a swimming pool, plus new parks.”

Carl Swain, who headed up that effort, said there were two reasons it was defeated.

“From the comments that I got after the election it was the fiscal note that was attached that taxes may be raised,” he said. “Then we voted to take over parks and recreation and maintaining any new building turned over to the town, but not to take over utilities.”

Swain said most people were concerned about growth and not taking over the utilities meant the elected town board would have no control over future growth.

Milz said as either an incorporated city or an unincorporated town, Dayton residents would have more control over their own destiny.

“Home rule means that you can be in charge of your own destiny and do what’s best for the citizens in your community,” Milz said. “The best way is to put it on the ballot and have the people vote on it. This town is ready.”

— Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.