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Fire board eyes thin slice of pay-as-you-go tax money

ELKO – Elko County Board of Fire Commissioners will be looking at using a small portion of the freed-up pay-as-you-go tax for the Elko County Fire Protection District.

The proposed tax hike for the fire district would be 3.25 cents, to 29.25 cents from the current 26 cents, This would come out of the 75 cents that is available because of voter rejection last November of a request to renew the pay-as-you-go tax for the Elko County School District.

County Manager Amanda Osborne said the current property tax rate of 26 cents for the fire district “will likely not be enough to cover future increases” in Wildland Fire Protection Plan fees the district pays each year, so the fire board will be looking at options.

“One of those options may include utilizing some of the tax rate made available as pay-as-you-go is discontinued at the end of FY22,” she said.

The fire district pays an annual fee to the Nevada Division of Forestry Wildland Fire Protection Plan, but the county and NDF have disputed the fee amount in past years. The district paid $600,000 to WWPP in the current fiscal year, according to the 2020-2021 budget.

The Elko County Fire Protection District was formed in 2015 to take over from the Nevada Division of Forestry, which had provided county fire coverage, and the 26-cent property tax was later set up to support the district.

Elko County’s property tax cap is $3.64 per $100 assessed valuation, and the county is at that cap, but the defeat of pay-as-you-go opens the way for 75 more cents out of the capped amount. Taxpayers would not see any increase because they have been paying the 75 cents.

The current pay-as-you-go tax expires June 30, 2022, so the proposal to raise the tax for the fire district would not be collected until after that date.

Along with the county, cities in Elko County also are hoping for a share of the pay-as-you-go amount.

Elko City Council decided in March to seek 17.77 cents from the pay-as-you-go pot with plans to define where the money would be used, while acknowledging that the Elko County School District may try again to get voter approval.

The fire board — which is made up of Elko County Commissioners — will be talking about the possible tax increase and the proposed fire district budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year at its April 8 meeting.

The tentative budget for the fire district’s operating fund calls for revenues of $3.7 million, but it forecasts revenues of a little more than $4 million if the tax rate went from 26 cents to 29.25 cents. Expenditures for the operating fund are expected to be a little more than $3.71 million.

The revenue for the current fiscal year ending June 30 is estimated at $3.29 million and expenses at $3.68 million. The year began with a fund balance of $459,083.

According to the tentative budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the fire district is estimated to have a beginning fund balance of $63,892. The ending fund balance for the 2021-2022 fiscal year is estimated at $51,552 at the tax rate of 26 cents and $363,283 at 29.25 cents.

The state’s recommended 16.67% ending fund balance is $618,847, which would be $567,295 short at the current tax rate and $255,564 short with the proposed tax rate.

The tentative budget for the fire district also includes the emergency fund, which will have $1 million carried over from the current fiscal year. There was a $300,000 transfer into the emergency fund in the current fiscal year to bring the total to $1 million.

The goal was $1 million for fire emergencies.

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Local church members excited about temple announcement

As has become customary with President Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in his final address of the Worldwide General Conference of the Church held in April and October each year, he announces new temples to be constructed. This year’s April conference was no different, except he announced 20 new temples — the second largest number of temples announced at one time — and one of those would be constructed in Elko, Nevada.

This announcement was received with gasps and screams of jubilation and tears of happiness by members of The Church of Jesus Christ living in Elko and surrounding communities in Northeastern Nevada, as well as many members who once lived in the area, as a temple in Elko has been prayed for, for many, many years.

In April 1997 a regional conference was held in the Spring Creek High School for members of the Church in Elko, Ely, Winnemucca and surrounding areas. It is reported that 4,900 people attended the conference, with many more being turned away because there was no room available for them in the building.

At the regional conference then-President of the Church Gordon B. Hinckley said that “someday” there would be a temple in Elko.

Although it has been 24 years of waiting, most members thought that day was still a long distance in the future. However, at each conference they waited for the announcement of new temples, hoping to hear “Elko, Nevada.”

As soon as President Russell M. Nelson announced, “Elko, Nevada,” this Easter Sunday, personal and church congregation’s social media feeds lit up, sharing the news and excitement that there would finally be a temple in Elko. Here are some of the responses:

Duane & Kathy Hoem

On Easter Sunday upon learning our Church leaders have decided to build a temple in Elko my wife and I were so surprised — perhaps “shocked” would be a better description.

Temples are very special to our members. In these sacred buildings we make covenants that enhances our relationship to Jesus Christ and greatly strengthens our desire to faithfully serve Him. If kept, these covenants are in force not only in our earthly life but extend into eternity.

Kathy and I were surprised some years ago when a temple was erected in Twin Falls, the closest one to Elko. Once the Elko Nevada temple is completed, we can enjoy the temple experience without having to travel to Twin Falls, Reno or Salt Lake City. What a tremendous blessing this will be to all of our members.

We remember a prophet telling us this was possible many years ago and now we see the revelation is beginning to be fulfilled! We believe in miracles and know this will be a blessing to our whole community!

(Duane Hoem served as Stake President of the Elko Nevada Stake from 1982-1991.)

Jeffrey and Sariah Knight and family

It’s an answer to our family’s prayers.

We know there will be many questions from our friends in Elko and the surrounding areas about the temple and we look forward to answering those questions. We also look forward to the temple dedication where everybody can walk through and see the inside of the temple.

Jenny Portrey

I am overjoyed at President Nelson’s announcement that we get a temple to bless the people of Elko! I look forward to being able to serve and worship as often as I can in the Holy House of the Lord! How grateful I am for this incredible blessing!

Kurt Alleman

I couldn’t believe that the day had come for a temple to be in Elko. When President Hinckley was asked if we could have a temple in Elko back in 1997, he gave a requirement that needed to be met before we would qualify. We needed a total of 10,000 active members in the temple district.

LDS Church celebrates 75 years in Elko

ELKO — Although Nevada was part of Utah Territory until it became a state in 1864, it wasn’t until 1942 that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organized a Mormon Stake based in Elko County.

The whole time I lived in Elko and worked with the Ely and Winnemucca Stakes, we could only count about half that amount. So, I kept believing that someday we’d have sufficient numbers to qualify, since President Hinckley said that “someday” we’d have a temple. When I heard the announcement yesterday, I couldn’t hold back the emotions of joy and surprise and thankfulness.

What a great privilege it will be to have a sacred temple in the town that I love. I believe that Elko will be greatly enhanced as a community and blessed for the great work that will be done in the temple. I miss all of the great people of Elko and look forward to seeing the temple upon completion.

(Alleman served as the first Stake President of the Elko Nevada West Stake from 1995-2004. He recently retired and moved from Elko.)

Gail and Andy Mierins

We were overjoyed when the announcement was made. Having lived on the East Coast where the closest temple was a 10-hour bus ride away, having a temple in our backyard will be a life-changing blessing for my family.

Coralee Dahl (Wells)

It will be a wonderful blessing for our community and for the Church in our community. It will be a spiritual boost for the whole area. It will be a blessing for all of us to be able to attend the temple more regularly.

It will even be a blessing for the local economy. I’m sure people will come from Ely, Winnemucca, Austin, Eureka, Battle Mountain, Wells, etc. and they will shop in Elko while they are there.

It was a surprise but shouldn’t have been, I guess, because President Hinckley prophesied that it would come.

Erik Smith

We are thrilled beyond measure with the announcement of a temple for our wonderful Elko community.

Over the past couple years a few of our youth have been anxiously engaged in genealogical and family history work. They have come to feel of the importance of the lives of ancestors who have gone before and lived a life that strengthens our communities and ultimately our family today.

We know that temples are sacred structures where heaven connects with earth, and the work done there allows us to connect with and strengthen our family ties with these ancestors because of covenant promises made through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

My joy is especially great for our youth who desire to go to the temples and feel of the peace that exists in a house of the Lord. One of our young men in our congregation said he is “just so excited to have a temple so close.” I know that a temple in Elko will be a great blessing for our community.

(Smith is currently serving as the bishop of the Elko 4th Ward.)

Ken Jones

The prospect of one day having a temple in Elko has been in the hearts and minds of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in northeastern Nevada for many years. Now to hear the announcement that we are to have one is like a dream come true and an answer to many prayers.

To be able to attend and serve in a temple without being required to travel hundreds of miles will surely bring blessings and joy into the lives of many individuals and families.

(Jones served as Stake President of the Elko Nevada Stake from 1991-1995, and the Elko Nevada East Stake from 1995-2000.)

Ross P. Eardley

When I think about a temple being built, and the growth and progress of the Church in the Elko area over the past 60 years — from the time when I was the bishop of the only ward (congregation) in Elko — which included Elko, Spring Creek, Meadow Valley, Ryndon, Osino, Tuscarora, and Lamoille — to now; I think the temple will be the icing on the cake.

(Eardley served as Stake President of the Humboldt Stake from 1963-1974.)

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Las Vegas water official says state should ban 'unused turf'

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A water official in Las Vegas says there ought to be a law requiring the removal of thirsty grass landscaping that isn’t used for recreation.

Southern Nevada Water Authority public service director Andy Belanger tweeted after a Legislature hearing on Monday that the definition of unused turf is grass that never gets stepped on except when it’s mowed.

His Twitter post said the Legislature should mandate getting rid of unused turf by the end of 2026. That might include ornamental grass and streetscape medians.

The idea gained immediate backing from one environmental advocacy group.

The Center for Biological Diversity pointed to ongoing drought in Southwest states that rely on the Colorado River and called the proposal the kind of bold thinking needed to avoid disaster.

The center’s state director, Patrick Donnelly, said getting rid of non-functional turf would send a strong message that Nevada is committed to water conservation, and would set an example for other states to follow.

He says a ban on non-functional turf would benefit the environment, endangered species and public health.

North Las Vegas Mayor switches from Democrat to Republican

NORTH LAS VEGAS (AP) — North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee has announced that he is switching his political affiliation from Democrat to Republican, citing a shift toward socialism.

His campaign website now reflects the switch, KVVU-TV reported.

“In the Democratic Party of Nevada, they had an election recently for leadership, and four of the five people were card-carrying members of the socialistic (sic) party,” Lee said. “It’s not the party that I grew up with 25 years ago in this environment, and it’s not the party that I can stand with anymore.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Lee was referring to recent elections for the leadership of the Nevada State Democratic Party, in which a slate of candidates affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America were elected to most of the party’s top leadership spots.

Lee has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor of Nevada in 2022, the Review-Journal reported. He told the newspaper last week that he had been “approached by different people in both parties” to consider switching to the Republican Party and running as a moderate.

Lee didn’t indicate in the “Fox and Friends” interview whether he intended to run for governor.

Lee, who served in the Nevada Assembly and state Senate, was defeated by a Democrat, Patricia Spearman, in 2012. He won election as mayor the following year.