TCC supports ‘vote of the people’
Even if the Nevada Legislature approves Tahoe County, voters in the Lake Tahoe Basin may have to concur before it could become a reality.
Michael Jabara, Tahoe Citizens Committee chairman, said the group will support the incorporation of a majority vote into its proposal to form a new county on the Nevada side of the basin.
“We are highly confident that a vote of the affected area would pass handily, but we are leaving it up to the Legislature to do that if they are so inclined,” he said on Monday.
Under current law, legislators have the full authority to devise county boundaries – a popular vote is not necessary.
But TCC leaders say a vote of the people is appropriate for such an important venture.
“We figure that if we can’t win that election, we have no business creating a county,” said Kelly Krolicki, TCC executive coordinator.
Morgan Baumgartner, attorney with Lionel Sawyer & Collins and a TCC lobbyist, said a provision could easily be written into the Tahoe County bill that would make the legislation suspect to a vote of the people.
She said the addition may actually make legislators more willing to OK the county.
“I think it gives them a degree of comfort that they’re not doing something people don’t want them to do,” she said. “It gives the Legislature accountability that the process is not driven by a few people, but is driven by a community as a whole.”
However, she said she does recognize the potential for the idea to backfire.
“The impact could be the opposite, where we go through all of this work, and then you all say no,” Baumgartner said. “We are willing to put ourselves on the line and actually let the people decide, because we are confident that (the new county) is financially viable, good for Nevada and will solve the problems up there.”
The voting issue has been a source of controversy among those who are not convinced that Tahoe County is the best choice.
John Glab, president of the Tahoe-Douglas Senior Center, said although he would support any decision to incorporate a vote requirement, he is one citizen who would not vote “yes” on a new county.
“I would vote to stay with Douglas County,” he said. “I really like those people in the valley. These are the lowest taxes I’ve paid in my life and these are the best services I’ve had.”
In response to several concerns he has with the TCC’s movement, Glab said he recently circulated a petition asking for an advisory vote on the new county, which about 100 people in the Tahoe-Douglas area signed.
“The important thing is to make sure everyone knows all the good things and the bad things – and there are some bad things,” he said. “Instead of leaving it up to Las Vegas interests and the interests of the casinos, I wanted people to get both sides of the story and then vote on it.”
Jabara said if the Legislature decides to require a vote of the affected people, the TCC would most likely help run a campaign to support the county.
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