Applicants sought for ballot question panel

MINDEN - Douglas County residents interested in writing arguments for and against ballot questions on saving open space have until May 8 to apply for the posts on the committee that will do the work.

Clerk-Treasurer Barbara Reed said the six-person group will be appointed by Douglas County commissioners to write arguments on as many as three possible ballot questions.

The questions could ask for a quarter-cent sales tax increase, a one-tenth percent real estate transfer tax or a 1-cent property tax hike, with proceeds to pay for preserving Carson Valley's undeveloped land.

County commissioners haven't decided which question to ask and may tell the committee to write arguments on all three before they decide.

Reed said the committee will be blazing new ground because a citizen committee has never been used to write ballot arguments. The 1999 Legislature put the procedure on the books for larger counties to use. Douglas will be one of the first to try it.

"I've tried to establish rules and regulations for every question that might come up, but we may have to make some modifications as we go along," Reed said.

County commissioners will decide whom to appoint May 18, starting a whirlwind schedule that includes a June 19 deadline for submittal of the arguments.

The following weeks include deadlines for additional reviews and appeals. A final decision is to be made by July 13.

The question is to appear on the general election ballot in November.

Reed said the committee will be subject to the state open meeting law, which requires three days of notice before every meeting, plus a clerk to record minutes and other administrative support.

She said the committee's first meeting will probably be held immediately after the appointments are made so the group can elect a leader and set a meeting schedule.

"We don't have any time to waste," she said.

The committee is to consist of three proponents and three opponents to the ballot questions. Applicants will be asked to declare their allegiance, interest, qualifications and any organization they represent on the form they submit to Reed.

For information on applying, call 782-9020.


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