ELKO – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is making new requests to the city for a veterans’ cemetery, so Elko City Council will take up the latest proposal at its Jan. 22 meeting.
Utilities Director Ryan Limberg told the council he prepared the agenda item last week for the Jan. council meeting before the VA changed its requests to the city to provide water for the cemetery. A new line and lift station will be needed because the site is at a higher elevation that the city’s water tanks.
The VA is proposing development of a national cemetery for veterans on 15 acres near the Adobe Middle School at Cattle Drive and Western Way on land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which would transfer the land to the VA.
Mike Musgrove of Spring Creek, a Veterans of Foreign Wars member, said he would “encourage the city to look at this hard and get more people here” for the Jan. 22 meeting.
“We’ve been trying to get something here for a long time,” he said, adding that after earlier efforts, the VA has agreed to work with BLM for the land transfer, and he understands the BLM has completed due diligence for the action.
The VA’s proposal had been to fund the design and construction of a dedicated 4-inch waterline and booster pump station to handle 200 gallons per minute, with the city agreeing after construction to maintain the line. The VA also asked the city to waive any water connection fees, citing positive benefits to the community.
Under the proposal that was to be considered at the Jan. 8 meeting, the city also would charge the VA 1.5 times the city rate for water because the site is outside city limits.
Limberg said the VA is now asking that the city allow the VA to pay the city water rate, and that the city design and construct the water line with the VA reimbursing “subject to appropriation limitations.”
Councilwoman Mandy Simons asked city staff to find out more on the appropriations limitations question to determine if there is any risk to the city.
“We will certainly look into it. This is more challenging with the new requests,” City Manager Curtis Calder said.
Councilman Bill Hance questioned whether the cemetery would have a water meter, and Limberg said he would recommend metering. The cemetery would only use water in warm weather.
Former Sen. Dean Heller, R-Wyo., proposed a bill last year that called for the BLM to transfer land near Elko to the VA for the national cemetery. The bill came up at the February 2018 meeting of Elko County Commissioners, at which time they supported the idea but had concerns about who pays for the cemetery upkeep.
The selected site is in the county and would be on federal land, but the city would provide the water.