Las Vegas Sun

October 19, 2019

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Southern Nevada planning coalition delays vote to change structure or disband

At least four members of the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition want the entity to disband completely, and at least four want it to continue operating in some capacity.

Unable to reach a consensus on the board’s purpose and future at Tuesday night's coalition meeting, board members agreed to delay a conversation about disbandment or other potential paths forward for the body until August.

Established in 1999 through a Nevada state statute, the SNRPC is tasked with coordinating planning efforts in Southern Nevada relating to land use, air quality, conservation and other issues. The 10-member body currently comprises two representatives from the Clark County Commission, two from the city councils in Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas, one from the Boulder City Council and one from the Clark County School Board.

But the coalition lacks dedicated staff members to carry out its duties or ensure continuity as board members come and go with election cycles and appointments. It also has little ability to fund the measures it proposes or supports, and some members say its efforts overlap with the work of other regional entities such as the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.

“We have to have some type of definitive goal. We have to have something we’re striving for,” said board member and Las Vegas Councilman Cedric Crear, who joined the body earlier this year. “From what I’ve gathered from speaking to my peers on this board, not a lot has been done, and I think that’s frustrating for all of us.”

The board has also been unable to come up with a fair method for allocating the costs of its duties among member entities, said Henderson Councilman Dan Shaw. Shaw noted that the Clark County School District, for example, lacks extra funds to cover the costs of SNRPC activities.

“So how do we do a fair allocation of costs when we have certain members that we’re just never going to get there?” Shaw said.

Faced with an uncertain future, the coalition enlisted consultation earlier this year from the public relations and political consulting firm Purdue Marion & Associates.

Firm principal Bill Marion presented the board with three potential paths forward: Continue to operate as is and potentially add a paid, independent staff member or consultant; transfer responsibilities to another regional entity, such as the RTC, and become for a forum for “emerging regional issues”; or turn all duties over to another entity and disband. The RTC would have the capacity to take on the duties of the SNRPC if tasked to do so, but the RTC Board of Commissioners would need to accept the extra duties, Marion added.

Although some members such as Boulder City Mayor-elect Kiernan McManus argued that the body does — or could — provide a unique regional function separate from the duties of the RTC, board member and Henderson Councilman Dan Stewart was blunt: The SNRPC has accomplished nothing meaningful.

“It just seems so superfluous and duplicative to me,” Stewart said. “I was the chair last year. I watched my staff, city of Henderson staff, work their guts out for nothing. It wasted time, energy and resources and I’m just fed up with it.”

Stewart presented a motion to disband the board over the course of the next year and allocate its remaining duties to the RTC.

Out of the eight members present at the meeting, Stewart’s motion garnered four votes: from himself, Shaw, Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore and North Las Vegas Councilman Scott Black. Crear, North Las Vegas Councilman Richard Cherchio, County Commissioner Justin Jones and McManus voted against disbandment.

Following the failed vote, Jones proposed a motion to move the board’s schedule from monthly to quarterly meetings. He also called on board members to consider and eventually vote on tasks that could be taken over by the RTC as well as tasks that the board could continue to handle.

Jones’ motion failed, too, with a vote of 4-4 in a complete reversal of the yay and nay votes of the previous motion.

In light of the clear disagreement among board members, Las Vegas Planning Director Robert Summerfield proposed a temporary solution: Discuss the coalition’s future at the board’s next meeting on Aug. 27, hopefully with all board members present.

“It’s meant to be a consensus board, and at this point, we clearly do not have consensus,” Summerfield said.

His motion passed 6-2. McManus, Jones, Shaw, Crear, Cherchio and Black voted in favor, and Stewart and Fiore voted against it.

In closing the meeting, Vice Chairman Cherchio emphasized that despite their disagreement, board members all want to do what’s in the best interest of Southern Nevada residents.

“I really appreciate being on the board with all of you and I respect all your concerns,” Cherchio said.