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Douglas to consider hiring lobbyist for Tahoe County fight

CHRISTY CHALMERS

MINDEN – Douglas County may hire its own lobbyist to fight the proposed Lake Tahoe County.

The County Commission is set to discuss hiring a lobbyist during its meeting Thursday. County Manager Dan Holler has suggested spending up to $50,000 on the venture, but stressed the estimate is high to allow flexibility.

“I just pulled the number out of thin air,” he cautioned Monday. “In talking to a couple of folks, the ballpark guess was $25,000 to $50,000.”



The money would be used to hire a lobbyist for the rest of the 1997 legislative session. It would come from general fund contingency money.

The Tahoe Citizens Committee, which proposes creating a new county out of Nevada’s Lake Tahoe Basin areas, has commissioned highly-regarded lobbyist Harvey Whittemore to advance its cause. In February, the Business Council of Douglas County publicly urged the county to hire its own lobbyist.



Commission Chairman Jacques Etchegoyhen said at least one lobbyist is interested in working for the county, a trait that will be a requisite.

“I think we’re realizing that we need to have some kind of presence at the Legislature,” said Etchegoyhen, who spent Monday at the Legislature. “We need someone there to focus on the needs of Douglas County. I’d like to find someone who’s well-respected and who cares about Douglas County.”

Etchegoyhen did not name the interested lobbyist, noting the full board will probably cull the state’s official list. He said a final choice could be a week away, assuming the board wants to hire one.

Two other commissioners contacted Monday said they think a lobbyist is a good idea, although they don’t want to spend $50,000 for one.

“I’d certainly like to spend a lot less than that,” said Bernie Curtis. “I think it’s something we need, as well as the folks at Tahoe, to at least get the facts out.”

Commissioner Don Miner said a lobbyist wouldn’t be needed full-time, which should cut the county’s cost.

“I thought we would focus on the current session,” said Miner. “That’s my concern. I think ideally, you could look toward a $10,000 or $15,000 contract to last through this session.”

Etchegoyhen estimated a cost of about $25,000 for the current session.

The lobbyist debate isn’t the only discussion the commission will have Thursday on raising Douglas County’s profile.

A separate agenda item is scheduled on increasing the county’s contribution to the Northern Nevada Development Authority to $10,000. Currently, the county gives the NNDA $1,000.

Commissioners said in February they would like to increase NNDA funding in hopes of recruiting more businesses.

If approved, that money would also come from general fund contingency reserves.


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