The June 7 meeting of the Caliente City Council was well attended.
Dave Luttrell, president of Lincoln County Power, gave a PowerPoint presentation on Nevada Ballot Question 3, also known as the Energy Choice Initiative.
Any change to the Nevada Constitution has to be on the ballot twice. The question appeared in 2016 and passed with a statewide 72 percent yes-vote. In Lincoln County, it passed with a 55 percent yes-vote.
If it passes again this year, it will require the Nevada Legislature to establish “an open, competitive retail electric energy market,” reduce energy market regulations and prohibit energy monopolies.
The main purpose of Luttrell’s presentation, which he is also making to other groups in the county, is to educate voters regarding the potential adverse impact of this initiative on rural Nevada in regard to increases in monthly power bills.
“I am asking agencies like the City of Caliente to become informed and to assist in educating the customers they serve,” he said.
Opponents to the measure argue Question 3 would deregulate Nevada’s electric utility system, removing all limits on what providers could charge. Customers would have to buy their power on the open market and energy prices could increase.
Rural power districts, like the ones in Lincoln County, would have to purchase power from a new third-party business, creating concerns that electricity costs would go up.
(Note: A copy of Luttrell’s presentation will be included with the online version of this article at LCCentral.com)
In other business, the council approved Southwest Bikes’ Robert Thompson’s request to leave three to five vehicles parked at Caliente Depot overnight on June 2, during the Southwest Bikes Meetup, when the group will be going from Caliente to Beaver Dam.
A lease agreement was approved for Little People’s Head Start of Nevada, the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program out of Ely.
A proposal was made to renew the Nevada Public Agency Insurance Pool. The proposal was approved for fiscal year 2018-2019.
Next was Councilman Cody Christensen’s resignation and declaration of vacancy after serving the people of Caliente for five years. Councilman Victor Jones noted that Christensen is one of the best councilmen he has ever seen, but approved the motion due to Christensen’s job and health issues.
A notice will be published in the paper for two weeks, and someone will be appointed to fill the vacancy at the council’s first meeting in July.
Kelli Haluzak resigned as city clerk, effective June 1. It was noted she will be missed in the office and the community.
The council approved Ashley Weideman as the new city clerk at a starting wage of $40,000 per year. She was sworn in on Friday at City Hall.
The council approved the hiring of Logan Decker as operator. He will start at $16 an hour and has to get his commercial driver’s license within a year.
Bonnier Hadden, president of the Senior Board, asked for a donation of up to $1,000 to help pay for the liability insurance on the Olson’s Senior Center. She stated that she hadn’t expected to have to ask for help, but there have been a few setbacks, including a back door and night lights that need repair, but are so old that she can’t find replacement parts. The center runs on fundraisers and donations.
Mayor George Tommy Rowe said, “There are two groups we need to take care of, our young people and our seniors. It was the city of Caliente that got a Community Development Block Grant [CDBG] to build the senior center. It is not a county building.”
The council approved the donation.
Pamela Jackson appeared before the council, saying that the feral cats in her neighborhood are a problem. People are unable to go out in their yards because of the stink. She wondered if there was a way that the city could help.
Rowe said the city can’t house the animals, but Loving Care in Panaca has a program that helps.
The council approved taking $500 out of the room tax fund to replace beautification banner brackets.
The CDBG grant, in the amount of $527,994, with conditions outlined for the restoration of the Caliente Depot, was approved.