Andy’s Newspaper column archive

Can Pahrump become the Nye County seat  ©

Every County in the United States has a city or town designated as their County Seat. In Nye County the current seat is Tonopah, established in 1905. Prior to Tonopah it was Belmont established in 1867. Prior to that in 1864 it was located in Ione.

The relocation of the County seat from Tonopah to Pahrump is long overdue. It has been a contentious conversation between these two towns. Tonopah resisting and Pahrump advocating.

In 1905 there was a debate as to whether Tonopah was in Esmeralda or Nye County. An official land survey settled the question. At that time Tonopah was also advocating splitting the County. The effort still goes on today with Joni Eastley and Lorinda Wichman leading the charge.

Belmont was a mining town that developed an impressive population for its time. That was the driving force to make it the County seat. Time and events worked to change circumstances and eventually the mines closed. The population dwindled and Tonopah applied to the Nevada Legislature in 1902 for permission to make Tonopah the County seat. It was denied. They argued that the County seat should be where the population was greater. They applied again in 1904 resulting in permission to bring Tonopah as the County seat. Tonopahs population peaked at around 10,000 dropping to a low of 2,000 or less since then.  Today it is estimated at around 3,000.

The Nye County official estimate for the population in Pahrump is published by the County Planning department. It is currently listed as 38,000. The purpose of locating a County seat in the most populous area is to better serve those who need its services. In fact when we check on the reasons for changing the location in the past, both were for reasons of service to the main center of population.

So why have we not moved the County seat to Pahrump? It certainly makes sense.

In 1955, the law on relocating County seats was created to require the following: “NRS 243.465  Whenever the residents of any county in this State shall file a petition with the clerk of the board of county commissioners, signed by qualified electors of the county, who are also taxpayers of the county as appears by the last real or personal property assessment roll, equal in number to at least 60 percent of the legal votes cast at the last preceding general election in the county, asking for the removal of the county seat of the county to some other designated place,.....”.  Upon first reading this one might think getting 60% of voters to sign a petition under these rules, including that they must be property owners, is almost impossible, let alone just getting signatures of 60% of the voters.

First, the law may be in violation of the one man one vote decision of the U. S. Supreme court.

Second there has never been a population vote on this issue so there seems to be no way to establish a petition.

If I am correct then this law may not apply to Nye County. That would leave two choices.  A decision by the County Commissioners to make the change or a request to the State for authorization to move the seat.

This is very important to citizens, that their government be as close as possible to them. There can be no reasonable or logical argument to keep the seat in Tonopah. Here are a few reasons.

All official records are to be stored at the County seat. That includes Commission minutes going back to day one , Assessors records, Recorders records, Treasurers records and the official history of Nye County.

All foreclosure Trustee real estate property auctions take place at the County Seat.

All official results of elections including the vote machine count, the early count of mail in votes, any recount challenge by candidates, and storage of the voting machines between elections are at the county seat.

Pahrump would be recognized nationally as the location representing Nye County. All references on internet web sites would reference Pahrump.

All prisoners would be moved to the new County seat. Right now they are housed in Tonopah, Beatty and Pahrump.   “NRS 243.485  County records, offices, property and prisoners to be removed to new county seat; penalty.

     1.  If a majority of the votes cast on the proposition of removal is in favor of removal of the county seat, so soon as convenient buildings can be had at such new county seat the board of county commissioners shall cause all the county records, county offices and property pertaining thereto, and all county prisoners, to be removed to the new county seat.”

The County law library would locate to Pahrump.

There would be eventual savings, not only to the county budget but also to the people who need access to government for all the necessary issues affecting their lives and businesses. Today we messenger documents between Pahrump and Tonopah daily.

All decisions affecting Pahrump would be made here. As an example the recent half cent sales tax was reintroduced at the Commissioners Tonopah meeting. There is a previous pattern of bringing unpopular issues about Pahrump to the meetings in Tonopah.

It is this writers opinion that the bulk of Nye Counties population would benefit from this change and the County Commissioners should move post haste to make the change. JUST GETTER DONE!!

Andrew Alberti