Dave Maxwell
A nearly full Lincoln County Courthouse listens to Planning and Building Director Cory Lytle explain a new assessment fee that commissioners would approve, 3-2.

On a vote of 3-2, the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners approved a special assessment to be charged to individual parcels of land within the unincorporated portions of the county. The rate was set at $10 per parcel annually and will go into effect July 1, 2017. It will be completely separate from the current commercial or residential landfill rates.

A public meeting on the issue was held Monday at the county courthouse in Pioche. So many turned out for the hearing, mostly protesters of the assessment fee, it was moved to the upstairs courtroom to accommodate all who wanted to attend.

In the over hour long hearing, Planning and Building Director Cory Lytle explained the need for the assessment is primarily to pay the $40,000 annual payment for the next 10 years of the $400,000 borrowed from the Lincoln County Land Act last year with which to buy out Recology.

Providing garbage service is something the county is required to do by unfunded state and federal mandates. He said, “The old days of dumping garbage in a pit and burning it once a week, or hauling it down behind your house, are gone. We can’t change that.”

After buying out Recology last year, a special select committee, chosen by the board, dealt with the possibility of having private companies provide the solid waste service, but decided after much investigation, to have Lincoln County take over the garbage hauling service, plus operating and maintaining Crestline landfill.

It is also required by the state, Lytle said, and written in the Nevada Revised Statutes, that each county “charge a specific amount of money to a specific single parcel in the unincorporated portions of the county.” For example, for a person who might own 30 parcels in unincorporated areas, it would be $10 a year for every parcel. One person noted Nye County does this also toward their landfill rate, but did not say how much the extra fee is.

There are about 4,000 such parcels in Lincoln County Lytle said. “We’re talking about a legal parcel, not a private lot, rather a legal parcel, whether by map or historic deed.” This is the manner, he explained, by which the county would make the annual $40,000 repayment.

Many members of the public, some from out of town, were on hand in the overfilled courtroom to give public comment.

Most expressed concerns that they felt it was unfair for them to have to pay a $10 annual fee for parcels of land they owned which were empty and generated no solid waste at all, “maybe just one-acre of sagebrush that I don’t even know where it is,” as well as an unfair extra burden to the current $240 annual charge for waste management. “I feel we are being punished for having those extra parcels,” one person said.

A few others who commented said they would even be willing to have the annual residential waste management fees raised from $240 to $270 or more. But the suggestion was not taken up by the board.

One person warned having the county take over the solid waste management was going to be “a Black Hole, from which there will be no end.”

Another person noted their opposition to non-waste generating properties being taxed. “There is no reason for taxes being levied there.”

Still another person brought up the idea of the need for a landfill that is much closer than Crestline, but the hearing did not discuss that issue further.

Commissioner Kevin Phillips finally moved to have the special assessment fee approved by the board, which was later given a second and the vote taken by the five-member board. Paul Donohue and Jared Brackenbury voted no.