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Econ Development, Bunkerville Diversion on Council Agenda
Posting Date: 06/11/2012

By Barbara Ellestad

When the Mesquite City Council meets tomorrow, June 12, it will receive a presentation from the Economic Development Technical Steering Committee it authorized in December, 2011.

The Steering Committee, which began meeting in March, was tasked to recommend three things to the Council: an appropriate structure for an economic development organization; funding sources for the organization; and a mission statement.

The Committee will present the pros and cons of three structures it examined. The first is to keep the status quo that has the Economic Development Office manned by a City employee. Bryan Dangerfield formerly occupied the position and Aaron Baker has filled in as Interim Director since the first of the year when Dangerfield moved to the Leisure Department.

The second structure the Committee considered is to merge the current Economic Development operations with the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce. A couple of pros associated with the proposal is that the new organization would provide for economies of scale, establish a cohesive economic development system, and it would develop a strong, unified working knowledge of Mesquite's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The Committee pointed out that the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors had not yet been asked about the idea, that the Chamber does not have economic development experience, and funding options are limited.

The third option the Committee considered, to create a private nonprofit organization, would allow flexibility in designing strategic economic development activities that fit the needs of Mesquite, could operate as a 'one-stop' shop for business, would allow confidentiality for businesses considering Mesquite as a place to operate, and "includes the City but operates for business."

The biggest stumbling block for the third proposal would be funding sources.

The Committee developed a draft budget for the Economic Development function through Fiscal Year 2017. In the budget just passed by the Council for FY 2012-13, $100,000 was set aside for Economic Development. Of that, only $51,000 is dedicated to salaries for Baker and one assistant. However, that's only 50 percent of the current salary expenses. The rest of the salaries for the two people comes out of the RDA funds.

The draft budget for a new ED function shows $100,000 more for the current fiscal year that would fund the operation from January through June 2013. The numbers rise to $200,000 in FY2014 and increase to $215,000 in FY2017.

Other agenda items the Council has on its meeting schedule includes considering an amendment to the cooperative agreement the City has with the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) that governs maintenance and landscaping for the newly reconstructed I-15 Exit 120 interchange. If the agreement is approved, the City will assume maintenance of the walls under the two bridges rather than leaving it to NDOT. City Staff was not satisfied with NDOT's method of removing graffiti.

Bill Tanner, Director of Public Works, recommended applying an Anti-Graffiti Coating to the walls during construction. That allows work crews to clean the graffiti off the walls rather than NDOT's method of simply painting over it, leaving a 'patchwork' affect.

The amendment also allows for more landscaping,

including palm trees in the roundabouts, than NDOT was originally willing to pay for. According to the agenda item's background material, the palm trees were paid for from Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) funds dedicated to the project.

Kurt Sawyer, Development Services Director, reported at the Council Technical Review meeting, June 5, that the City had received a grant worth $420,000 to finish more landscaping in the interchange area than original plans called for.

If approved, the amendment will require the City of Mesquite to assume all maintenance from the bottom of the bridge girders to the ground. NDOT will maintain the bridge structure from the girders up.

As a side note, Sawyer also announced at the Technical Review meeting that the City has received final approval from NDOT for the Shared Use Path construction project along Pioneer and Oasis Boulevards. "We're excited to get going on this project," Sawyer said. See Mesquite Citizen Journal story Revised Pioneer Shared Use Path Quietly Approved-Video

Two agenda items for the Council meeting pertain to rebuilding the Bunkerville Diversion in the Virgin River that was destroyed in the December 2010 flood. The first item concerns a resolution with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that provides 75 percent of the cost of rebuilding the dam-like structure, estimated to be a total of $708,750. The Bunkerville Irrigation Company (BIC) is responsible for the remaining 25 percent and 100 percent of other costs that do not qualify for NRCS reimbursement. No City funds will be used for the project.

Because of limitations in how the NRCS funding is structured, the City must act as a go-between agent with NRCS and BIC. The City agreed because the diversion is an important barrier that prevents invasive fish from migrating up the Virgin River from Lake Mead and acts as a diversion during heavy water flows. Up to 16 percent of design and administration costs that the City incurs will be refunded either by NRCS or BIC

The second item follows through with a Cooperative Agreement between BIC and the City of Mesquite. It echoes the same agreement that has BIC supplying 25 percent of the costs of rebuilding the diversion structure.

The councilors will also consider approving an Interlocal Agreement with the Regional Flood Control District for flood control facilities maintenance in FY 2012-13. The agreement calls for the District to reimburse $210,000 to the City for its work.

A Letter of Understanding between the Teamsters Local 14 Fire Bargaining units and the City of Mesquite is also on the Council agenda. The Letter extends the 2007 Labor Agreement for one more year. Last year's labor agreement provided a five percent pay raise to firefighters over a two-year period. According to Mike Callahan, Director of Internal Services, the firefighters took the entire five percent raise last year so they will not receive any additional increases in their base pay this year.

The meeting begins at 5:00 pm in the City Council Chambers. It's open to the public.
 

Commentary
  • Posted Date: 06/11/2012
    The BIC should also do something to protect people against drowning in the river. And once again RDA funds are being used for the wrong reasons -two pay Aaron Baker and his assistant. Eliminating him would be a good start on a plan. he has accomplished nothing for over $100,000 a year.
    By: Nancy
  •  
  • Posted Date: 06/11/2012
    Agreed, Nancy. Can someone, anyone, please tell us what background or experience Aaron Baker has in business or business development? Government DOES have a role to play in attracting and supporting businesses in a community, but there are much more capable and experienced folks available to do this job for a lot less than the money being wasted on this "leftover"
    By: Justsayin2
  •  
  • Posted Date: 06/11/2012
    The very first thingthe committee should do is get rid of Baker. His record is horrible. What has he done? Nothing.
    By: Vic
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