Welcome and thank you for taking time to attend the State of the City for 2019. My name is Roy Edgington. I have had the privilege to serve as your Mayor for four years, and I’m beginning my second term as Mayor. I was elected first to the city council in 2010 for Ward 3. Our community was struggling with the recession and no building.
As a councilman, we focused on stabilizing the city’s budget. Keeping the lights on and making sure basic services were being delivered was our only task. In the last four years the council and staff have been working hard to look forward to the future. I have seen a turnaround on how we do business and our community’s priorities.
We have stabilized our water and sewer enterprise funds. For the first time in over five years, the city is not in the red. We are able to do needed repairs and have a small reserve fund for emergencies.
The council has directed staff to review and update our community master plan, utilities plan, parks plan and transportation plan.
On December 7, 2017, City Council directed staff to continue the previous budget year’s priorities of revenue analysis and asset management with a focus on planning and plan implementation for the last budget year of 2017/18.
First, strategy. Few—and by “few” I mean “no”—city, large or small, boast that they have the economic resources and political ability to get everything they desire. That being said, political leaders must first understand the community and then develop a strategy to address the many demands of the city’s residents with a scarce budget.
Basically, strategy is a way to set and enforce priorities and provide resources to reach those priorities. We can’t have it all.
The City of Fernley must be more critical with itself than most cities when setting and enforcing priorities because of budget restraints. Self discipline hasn’t always been this community’s strong suit. The commitment by this Mayor, Council and staff to improve the community and the lives of its citizens remain a driving force, and the reality is we have to accept that what we need or want must be done in phases rather than all at once.
This is not an easy way of doing things, but it is reality when trying to survive in today’s budget constraints. Our city Leaders face pressure to decide what is important, what can be achieved, and plan for the rest.
For the last three years the City Council and staff together with the University of Nevada Reno have been working on a redevelopment project for the City of Fernley.
In April 2016, the City Council unanimously voted to move forward to identify a possible area within the City of Fernley redevelopment project area. Over the last 18 months, the City held five public workshops and many public presentations at Council meetings. In addition, the City held a meeting with stakeholders on October 3, 2018 to seek input on the draft Redevelopment Plan. Representatives from Lyon County, Lyon County School District, North Lyon Fire Protection District, Fernley Pool District, and the State of Nevada were all invited to the meeting.
The process will continue with an adoption of the Preliminary Redevelopment Plan. If successful, day one of the Fernley Redevelopment Agency will be May 2019.
The City has continued to work on creating, adopting, and implementing several plans.
The City Council unanimously adopted the new Master Plan, which had not been updated in over 10 years. The Master Plan contains guiding principles, goals, policies, strategies, and supporting maps. These components will guide future decisions for development and planning, natural resources, transportation, infrastructure, public services, and other issues of interest to the City and its citizens as the community experiences new growth and development.
Parks Master Plan
The Parks Master Plan was adopted in September 2017. The primary purpose of the Parks Master Plan update is to ensure the City’s budgeted resources are appropriately used and that parks, trails, and open spaces meet the needs of the community and enhance the quality of life for the residents. Staff is now implementing identified projects.
A communications plan was developed in coordination with the city’s strategic plan. This was in response to the challenges related to growth and development and the need for new or expanded services. Along with a greater demand for public services from area residents, property owners, and businesses is a growing need for increased awareness regarding the City’s policies, actions, implementation, and administration. The plan was accepted in September 2017, the following items have been completed from the Communications Plan:
• A Capital Improvement Plan Committee has been created, which includes internal staff to develop a Capital Improvement Projects review process, and determine a long-term plan for infrastructure stability.
• The legislative team is appointed annually and includes members of staff, contracted lobbyists, two council members, and the Mayor.
• An internal Customer Service Team has been created. They are responsible for reviewing both internal and external customer service needs. They have revamped the customer service survey and established a process to review areas of improvement and accomplishments. They have developed a welcome letter to be distributed to new customers that provides information on city departments.
• The City has a Facebook page to provide information about various City projects and issues.
• The City distributes a quarterly newsletter in the utility bills as well as on the City’s website and social media.
• The Citizen’s Academy is an annual program that is held each February. The program lasts 7 weeks and provides citizens with information about all the City Departments. Approximately 80 citizens have completed this program over the past 2 years.
• Coffee with the Mayor is held quarterly. This is an opportunity for the Mayor to share information about various topics within the City.
• Information is shared at many service groups throughout the year including Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, Fernley Builders Association, and others. This will continue to keep the public informed about various topics.
Water Resource Plan and Water Conservation Plan
City Council set water management as a top priority for the last several years. Water resources are critical to the City of Fernley’s future. Staff is developing a basic Water Resource Plan focusing on limited resources in managing water. This plan will officially document and provide policy related to the City’s ability to provide long-term water supply to customers in periods of above and below snowpack and rain.
The Bureau of Reclamation reviewed the City of Fernley Water Conservation Plan and it meets the Mid-Pacific Region’s 2014 Standard requirements. The Plan shall be revised every 5 years beginning October 1, 2022.
Water is and will always be an issue in a state that receives little water. We live in a high desert called the Great Basin with an average rain fall of 6 to 8 inches a year. Growth relies on our available water and the conservation of this water. Up to now the city has used only ground water to service our customers, and the surface water has been going to Fallon or Pyramid Lake. City Council has directed staff to move forward with treating surface water. We believe that by using two sources of water we can improve the water, and be more efficient with our resources. There are costs associated with the treatment and storage upstream.
The City of Fernley is currently working on creating a transportation master plan. A transportation master plan is a guiding document for how traffic moves through the community. It is a critical document for any community and is extremely helpful when dealing with proposed development.
After ten years the City awarded a contract to replace Hardie Lane with new sidewalks, bike lanes, utilities and roadway. This project has a price tag of over five million dollars. The city receives about $650,000 from the RTC funds each year. In addition, the city has been applying slurry mix on roadways to extend the usable life.
We are working with NDOT and the industrial park owner to complete the connection of Highway 50 to interstate Highway 80 via Nevada Pacific Parkway.
Water Meter Replacement Citywide
In 2013, Council directed Public Works to upgrade to a remote meter reading system. Currently, staff drives a route across the City to read all the meters in the City. The remote system is an industry standard. Meter reads are taken remotely without the need for a truck mounted unit, this will allow meters to be read in “real time.” New software can be used to track and graph a customer’s usage (like NV Energy graphs) which is a great tool for addressing high usage complaints and disputes. This new system will allow us to use one meter for two homes, saving the community money for installation and maintenance.
The sewer master plan is ten years old. Staff is working on many upgrades. Donner trails lift station was completed last year, and this will allow growth in that area. East lift station had major work on it that was badly needed and we have planned a grit chamber replacement this next year. Note 80 percent of the wastewater is pumped to this station daily.
Good news from the transient lodging tax – we used part of the money to buy eight plus acres for a new convention/civic center. Lyon County is going to build a new senior center on this site. This shows a willingness to work with other entities.
Construction has picked up with new homes being built at a rate of approximately 200 per year. For the first time, in over 8 years, we are seeing new construction in the industrial park. Polaris is building a new distribution center, which will create 75 new jobs. In addition, EDAWN 7 and the industrial park owners are in negotiations for two to three more large businesses at the park.
The City is currently working on approximately $740,000 in grant projects; all five of these grants have been funded through the Community Development Block Grant program. None of these grants required a cash match from the City. These include sewer construction to the Depot, future community center design, and approximately $220,000 for Main Street Beautification.
Moving forward, Mayor, Council, and staff recommend continuing with the efforts to identify revenue streams and focusing on long-term planning, plan implementation, and municipal service delivery.
And to recap, currently I wish to impress on everyone the need to stay the course and remember the following. The commitment by this Mayor, Council and staff to improve the community and the lives of its citizens remain as a driving force, but the reality is we have to accept that what we need or want must be fulfilled in phases, rather than all at once.
I would like to thank the City Council, Staff and the Community for your hard work, support, and effort in making Fernley a great place to live, work, and play. Thank you.