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Mesquite Council Authorizes Partial Fee Increase, Hears Econ Dev Plan-Video
Posting Date: 05/23/2012

By Barbara Ellestad
Anne Miranda, left, and Natalie Hafen serve as spokeswomen for the Mesquite Economic Development Commission as they presented a two year strategic plan to the Mesquite City Council, May 22. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

Anne Miranda, left, and Natalie Hafen serve as
spokeswomen for the Mesquite Economic
Development Commission as they presented a two
year strategic plan to the Mesquite City
Council, May 22. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

"We don't take these adjustments lightly," is how Bryan Dangerfield, Director of Athletics and Leisure Services introduced the idea of increasing rates and maintenance fees for leaseholders at the Mesquite Campus to the Mesquite City Council at its meeting May 22. "We know our non-profits are hurting."

Ultimately, the Council gave him part of what he asked for.

Dangerfield proposed to raise the square footage rental rates by two cents a month to 34 cents to help cover utility costs. He also proposed to raise the Common Area Maintenance (CAM) fee by $10 a month to $35 per tenant. The fee, previously called a maintenance fee, "will go toward some of the maintenance costs for landscaping and other common area upkeep by Parks staff as well as small projects in the future at the Mesquite Campus.

He compared the monthly rental rates at the Mesquite Campus to commercial rental rates that currently run between 75 cents and $1 a square foot. "Technically, they are being subsidized and supported by the City."

Power, water, sanitation, and propane gas charges are included in the utility fee that Dangerfield proposed to increase. Campus tenants include private non-profit organizations like the Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation, Mesquite Cancer Society, Virgin Valley Theater Group, Alcoholics Anonymous, and the College of Southern Nevada.

Dangerfield mentioned that the rates are adjusted yearly to reflect upward or downward trends in utility costs.

Councilman Kraig Hafen noted that the majority of tenants are "donation driven."

"Fundamentally, I don't have a problem with covering costs," Councilman George Rapson commented. "In one way it would be unfair to the community to support these groups through the General Fund. If the entities that use [the campus] don't pay these costs then the taxpayers at large will pay it."

"When these fees fluctuate like this, they go up and then they go down, I don't understand how these organizations can plan ahead," remarked Councilman Al Litman. "Especially when they don't have a clue what their donations are going to be. It must be very stressful for them."

"That point is well-taken," Dangerfield replied. "The Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery has a long-term lease agreement. It's a lot of work for Staff and a guessing game for the non-profits."

Hafen asked Dangerfield to create a comparison chart of fees his department charges in other areas like the Recreation Center that would show the difference between what the City charges users and what they would pay at a commercial venue.

"If we're going to be concerned about covering costs, then we need to look at all those kinds of discretionary charges just to see if adjustments need to be made," Hafen said.

Rapson made a motion to increase monthly utility charges by the two cents Dangerfield asked for. However, his motion only granted a $5 a month increase, to $30, in the CAM fee. The Council voted 4-1 to accept the motion. Litman was the lone nay vote.

Economic Development Commission Presentation

Natalie Hafen (no direct relation to Councilman Hafen) and Anne Miranda presented a two-year economic development plan to the Council at its meeting Tuesday evening. The plan was devised by the Mesquite Economic Development Commission, for which the two women served as spokespersons, after Mayor Mark Wier challenged the group to create a strategic plan the local, private business community would support.

Focusing mainly on ways to

boost and support tourism in Mesquite, the women introduced a new business-to-business forum to which all private business owners would be welcomed. The first meeting is scheduled for tonight, May 23, at 6:00 pm, at the College of Southern Nevada campus, Room 10.

Saying that the challenge was to determine "what can we do and what do we have we can work with now," Hafen explained that sports events coming into Mesquite are the common core of the plan.

"The three point plan we came up with takes stock of existing resources and partners. We want to get businesses involved with the actual event coordinators," she said. "Who can they go to work with two or three months out to see what's coming in."

Miranda explained that the business forum would have two purposes. "We want to do some information dumping onto the businesses about the events coming to town. These businesses can start planning for these events."

The second purpose would be to develop collaboration between the businesses and give them an opportunity to develop partnerships within the group. "Let's create some events for the events," is how Miranda put it.

Additional ideas the Commission included in their two-year plan are to examine the business licensing fees and impact fees charged by the City, support the proposed Mesquite Indoor Sports/Events Center, promote a "Gold Butte Days" festival in the Fall, and utilize the Visitor Center located at I-15 Exit 122 to promote local events.

The Commission also recommends creating a messaging slogan for Mesquite that can be "adopted across various branding efforts." Miranda said the Commission suggests adding the branding slogan to the Virgin Valley Water District water storage tank along I-15.

"We hope people will utilize what we're trying to do and that the businesses will get involved," Hafen remarked.

Aaron Baker, Interim Economic and Redevelopment Director, reminded the Council and audience that "with any plan of this nature, it is important for the participants to play the proper roles. It is the Commission's belief that private business, not the City of Mesquite, should be the driving force behind much of the implementation of this plan. Indeed, the City should play a supporting role, as private businesses work together."

In other action, the Council

--heard a presentation by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority regarding the benefits Mesquite derives from its association with the organization;

--approved a proclamation recognizing the 65th Anniversary of the Las Vegas News Bureau;

--approved a resolution in support of the right of self determination for the residents of the unincorporated township of Laughlin, NV. The township residents will vote on incorporating on June 12.

--canceled a consideration of a zone change and master plan amendment for the Riverside Commercial Center located at 750 and 780 W. Hafen Lane. City Manager Andy Barton explained that "the request for rezoning was unnecessary. There was a code change made in 2000 that allows Mr. Biasi [the property owner] to do what he's entitled to do. Unfortunately, it never got codified. We think this was an oversight by the City Attorney at the time. In any event, we put Mr. Biasi to some trouble and expense in going through the zoning change request. We have since apologized to Mr. Biasi and we refunded his fees. We will make sure this ordinance change is put back into the code.

 

Commentary
  • Posted Date: 05/23/2012
    City did the right thing if fixing the wrong toward Mr. Biasi. That is refreshing. Former city attorney who messed up had to be Terrible Terry. Thank God the new city manager straightened out the mistake.
    By: ralphedwards
  •  
  • Posted Date: 05/23/2012
    I built the Riverside Commercial Center in 1995 in a IR-1 Zone and got Use permits to allow for Retail, Office and Churches. We opened with Bella Pizza, Riverside Dry Cleaners, a Mexicana Market, Dave's floorCoverings, Pro Paint and Glass, Furniture Store, A four square Church, Hair Salon and a Players Island Employment office. The property was parceled to allow for a Church to go in. We have many retail uses since day one. In the back property, we had Mesquite Fitness, Salvation Army and other Retail stores. I DID NOT WANT TO DO THE ZONE CHANGE, but Planing and Zoning would not allow me to have any more retail there , based on THREE WORDS THAT THEY SAID WERE REMOVED FROM THE CODE. I have been in and out of their office for the past six months, dealing with how to either ammend the code, expand the split zoning or do a Zone Change. Just this past Monday a day before the counsel meeting, I asked them to show me, how the three words got removed from the Code. WE DON'T KNOW, was was their position. I said, "I think that someone dropped the ball, and did not Codify the code and put into the code books." PLANING AND ZONING REALIZED THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAD HAPPENED. For 10+ years the Ord. 246 sat in a file somewhere, It had been signed into code by the Mayor and City Clerk, but it took someone like Dave Biasi to force the issue and bring it to light. I only wonder the damage that has been done to the City, of all the business owners of IR-1 Zones, that wanted to have Commercial uses, but were turned away. I know that I have suffered loses.
    By: Dave Biasi
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