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Warm Springs seeking to form town

By Carla O'Day
Published: Last Updated on

A petition to establish an unincorporated town north of Spanish Springs was acknowledged Tuesday by Washoe County commissioners, who are considering granting it a spot on the November ballot.

The petition for “Warm Springs Valley” was filed with the Registrar of Voters in February and signatures underwent verification in June. A decision on whether to place it on the ballot is expected from commissioners in August.

According to state law, the minimum number of signatures for the petition to form an unincorporated town is 10% of the registered voters in its designated boundary who cast ballots in the preceding general election.

The proposed boundary includes Warm Springs and Palomino Valley, stretching north of Spanish Springs, but remaining west of Pyramid Lake and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation and east of the North Valleys planning area.

A map of the proposed boundary of "Warm Springs Valley."
A map of the proposed boundary of “Warm Springs Valley.”

County commissioners received several comments by voice mail and email on the issue.

Those opposed said a town isn’t needed and that it could mean higher taxes and bring bureaucracy similar to that of a homeowners association.

“I do not want another layer of government out here,” Kathleen McCovey said. “I do not want an unincorporated township. I’ve been out here for 27 years and it’s fine the way it is.”

Maeve Ambrose, chairwoman of the Warm Springs Community Advisory Board, said she’s heard from residents on both sides of the issue. She also said people need to further study the issue to understand the positives and negatives, although she favors the question going on the ballot.

“I believe there needs to be more time to research both the pros and cons of becoming an unincorporated town,” Ambrose said. “I’m supporting the possible placement of the question on the 2020 general election ballot. As you know this election will have a higher voter turnout and it will motivate more of the community to have their voices be heard.”

Commissioner Vaughn Hartung said he’d like to know how forming a town would affect the already-existing Palomino Valley General Improvement District. He also asked the District Attorney’s office to articulate the pros and cons and how they’d relate to the county.

“If this is such a great thing, why haven’t other communities throughout Washoe County done this in the past?” Hartung asked.

There are 734 registered voters in the proposed Warm Springs Valley boundary and organizers submitted 269 signatures. Of the 105 signatures that were verified, the Registrar of Voters found 31 were either duplicates, not registered to vote, didn’t vote in the last election, or didn’t live within the boundaries. That brought the total to the minimum 74 signatures required.

An unincorporated town can create a governing body, although most services are provided by the county that encompasses it.

Commissioner Jeanne Herman noted there are plenty of unincorporated towns in Nevada.

“Paradise, where the Strip is in Las Vegas, is an incorporated town,” Herman said. “Minden, Gardnerville and about 40 other areas are unincorporated. This is a very common thing. Don’t be afraid of it.”

Other unincorporated towns in the area include Crystal Bay, Incline Village, and Verdi.

If placed on the ballot and approved by voters, the stated fiscal impact would require a special tax levy of approximately $.00011 for the residents that will be residing within the designated boundaries, according to Washoe County.

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