Opinion: Why even have an IVGID board of trustees?
Special to the Bonanza
As most residents know, IVGID has a five member Board of Trustees. Despite the fact that the purpose of general improvement districts is to provide facilities and services not provided by their counties for local property owners’ benefit, BOT members are elected biennially, and only residents of the district, over the age of 21, who have registered may vote.
Although prior to 1977, IVGID’s voting scheme for trustees included nonresident owners of property (“taxpaying electors”), that’s not the case today. Although most members of the BOT have publicly proclaimed they work primarily for the local parcel owners who pay the Rec Fee, the owners of two thirds of local parcels assessed that fee are excluded from voting because they are not residents.
We keep hearing “no micromanaging.” But if you read the NRS, you will see that the BOT is charged with micromanaging: hiring (NRS 318.180) and firing (NRS 318.210) of employees and others; prescribing their duties and fixing their compensation (NRS 318.185); and, managing, controlling and supervising all the business and affairs of the district (NRS 318.175).
Yet for the last 40 or more years, past BOTs have adopted “policies” abdicating these powers to unelected senior staff.
When a trustee runs for election, he/she generally has a platform or agenda he/she represents he/she will champion, if elected. However once elected, staff quickly indoctrinates our trustees into the IVGID “culture.”
This is a culture where: Trustees work for staff (rather than the other way around), senior staff work for themselves and their colleagues (rather than the public who pays their salaries and benefits), and individual campaign promises are discarded because a trustee’s only reason for being is to adopt “policy” (drafted by self-serving staff with an agenda, and oftentimes not even understood by BOT members) so the BOT can walk in lockstep with one another and speak with a single voice.
In other words, no individualism, no “micromanaging,” no “rolling in the weeds,” and a whole lot of serial “rubber stamping.”
When Trustees Smith and Hammerel were first elected they naively thought they could bring about change. But they were quickly pummeled into submission. Don’t we remember what happened when a special meeting was noticed to address our former GM’s alleged improprieties?
The IVGID machine (fueled by self-annointed “movers and shakers”) showed up in full force to publicly embarrass these “mavericks,” and to put them in their place. When that didn’t work, former Chairperson Bruce Simonian orchestrated a series of publicly embarrassing events intended to marginalize these “young bucks.”
And he was successful. After enduring public pummeling, our new trustees became card carrying members of the “rubber stamp” club we know as the BOT.
Take a look at what’s happening now; it’s déjà vu! Two trustees who are attempting to break the IVGID mold for the betterment of our community are being publicly chastised by their colleagues and a laundry list of past trustees.
And just like before, Smith and Callicrate will be pummeled into submission. And then the BOT will again speak as one, senior staff will again have the freedom to do and spend whatever they want without having to justify anything to anyone, IVGID’s recreational operations will continue to lose nearly $7M annually, our Rec Fee will remain unnecessarily flat, and those of us not on the BOT who call for political change will be branded misinformed, disgruntled citizens, gadflies or whatever other negative labels proponents of the IVGID machine can muster.
When you live in a company town (and make no mistake, that’s exactly what Incline Village/Crystal Bay is), you don’t cross the company. That’s what Trustees Smith and Callicrate are doing, and now they’re paying the price. If the IVGID machine is successful, why do we need a BOT?
Aaron Katz is an Incline Village resident.
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