In a formality, the Mesquite City Council voted to approve a $19.269 budget for Fiscal Year 2013-14 at its Tuesday, May 28 meeting. The budget must be submitted to the State of Nevada by June 1 even though negotiations with employee unions that may alter the numbers have not been finalized.
Only slight changes were made to the spending plan from previous budget hearings. One was to remove $41,852 from the Mesquite Fire Department for equipment purchases. The other was to reclassify the newly created City Liaison Officer position, bumping it down one step. Aaron Baker, formerly the Interim Economic Development Director, will fill the position.
The Council approved a City Staff request to pursue a right-of-way application with the Bureau of Land Management for dirt berms that were constructed along the Virgin River after the 2010 flood.
Obtaining the right-of-way for the area on the east side of town near Old Mill Road and E. Mesquite Blvd will allow the City to properly maintain the berms and create an ATV trail that will run along the Virgin River to Riverside Road.
Several years ago, Staff discussed a potential Recreation and Public Purpose lease for the property with the BLM but never pursued it. Current BLM staff has encouraged the City to pursue the ROW first and then come back for the more formal lease.
John Willis, City Development Services Department Planner told the Council lease costs would come in anywhere from zero to $2 per acre for the 83 acre area with a minimum $25 charge. A lease would expand the potential uses on the land and give the City more control, as well as the ability to purchase (the acreage) in the future.
A City of Mesquite Advisory Committee on Minority and Ethnic Relations was sunsetted on a 5-0 vote but carried a caveat. The committee was created by the City in 2001 but has never met.
Bill Hurd, Chairperson of the Clark County Rural Democratic Caucus, addressed the Council on the issue saying "I perceive there is a lot of discrimination in the City of Mesquite.Maybe not more than other places, but there is still a lot of discrimination certainly against gender, race, and religion among others."
Councilmen George Rapson and Kraig Hafen concurred with Hurd's follow-on request to rejuvenate the committee.
Hafen suggested approving the sunset vote and starting over.
"I think this is a worthwhile exercise," Rapson said about revamping the committee. "My kids went
to high school here. They complained about inequities and discrimination. It was very disturbing to them. If any committees have merit, this is one of them. I would like to see it re-visited at some point."
"We have a very diversified citizenship here. I think it's something worthwhile," Rapson said before making a motion to sunset the committee and direct staff to create a new committee.
In other Council action the following resolutions were approved on 5-0 votes:
--sunset the City of Mesquite Golf Course Task Force that hasn't met since 2008;
--a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Interlocal agreement between the Mesquite Police Department (MPD) and the State of Nevada Attorney General for implementation of the Nevada statewide automated Victim Information and Notification Service (VINE);
--a MOU for the Nevada Highway Patrol to lease office space in the MPD headquarters;
--a MOU between the City of Mesquite and the State of Nevada, Department of Public Safety, Nevada Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Department for pass through grant funds.
City Manager Andy Barton provided a periodic update on goals that were adopted at the November 2012 Council Strategic Planning workshop.
Under the "Good Government" strategy goals:
--Mayor and Council members have attended at least one community event per month. Some have attended more than that.
--City Manager has provided feedback to the Council via email about citizen comments from his monthly community forums.
--City Staff pursued the idea of streaming Council meetings over the Internet but discovered it was too expensive. It would cost between $70,000 and $90,000 to implement in the upcoming budget.
--Point of contact for media and citizens will be the newly-created City Liaison Officer, Aaron Baker.
--An annual departmental review will be conducted in the Mesquite Fire and Rescue Department in Fiscal Year 2013-14.
Under the "Better Business" strategy goals:
--Several changes have been made to the City Business Licensing process including quicker turnaround in issuing licenses.
--A review of costs and fees charged by the City to businesses will be conducted in the third quarter of this year.
--Review and changes of the City's policy on land sales will be conducted by the end of the second quarter of this year.
--Discussions with key businesses have been held concerning a business summit.
--Improvements to the City's sign ordinance will be introduced to Council before the end of this calendar year.
Under "Building a Great Community" strategy goals:
--Staff will introduce to Council a plan to create a 'place of community' in the downtown area by the end of the third quarter of this year.
"We're making good progress on some goals and others we still have progress that needs to be made," Barton said in concluding his update.
For a look at Mayor and Council comments, view this video