The lines appear to have already been drawn for the recently expanded Clark County council.
In their first meeting Tuesday, the now five-member Clark County council voted 3-to-2 to repeal eight resolutions championed by Republican Councilor David Madore that covered a spectrum of transportation and zoning issues. It also voted, by the same breakdown, to revisit the 2 percent property tax levy decrease the county council approved early last month, laying the groundwork for that decision to be reversed.
Councilor Jeanne Stewart, a Republican, new Councilor Julie Olson, a Republican, and new Council Chairman Marc Boldt, no party preference, voted to repeal the resolutions approved last month, citing not the content of those resolutions, but the way they were approved before the new councilors were seated. The council shifted from a three-person board to a five person board this year.
“These are sweeping, profound policies that we’re making,” said Stewart, who until last month was often in the minority on the board. She added: “They will make a direction for all of us, including the new council.”
In her first decision on the Clark County council, Olson emphasized the importance of adopting and considering policies that guide decision making as a full five-member council.
“This discussion we’re having tonight about the implications of these policies is why we need to start over with them so we can have this discussion as a group, as a board,” Olson said. She added that she’d like to bring all eight topics back for discussion, but as a united board.
Tuesday’s heated meeting showed a clear shift in power from the majority once enjoyed by Madore and Republican Councilor Tom Mielke, as over and over again the two councilors argued for the resolutions to be maintained.
“I’m just flabbergasted,” Madore said as the council, for the eighth time, prepared to vote to repeal one of his resolutions. “This is supposed to be fixing dysfunctional government?”
A lively crowd came Tuesday, and there was standing room only in the hearing chamber until an overflow room was opened. Familiar critics of the council, as well as local conservative leaders, booed, clapped and shouted as each vote came down.
Christian Berrigan, a state committeeman for the Clark County Republican Party, warned the council that their votes would not be interpreted as an objection on the way they were approved.
“This vote is about your position on the policies,” Berrigan said.
Phil Haggerty was also among those who urged the council to uphold the policies.
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water,” he said.
But there was also a large crowd who spoke in support of repealing the resolutions.
“It’s a shame that we’re here on a contentious resolution right off the bat,” said Bridget McLeman, urging the council to go back and address each item individually to find consensus as a full board.
Jackie Lane also urged the council to back away from Madore’s resolutions.
“End the divisiveness,” she said.
The council, again to the protest of Madore and Mielke, voted to revisit the county’s planned 2 percent property tax levy decrease during next week’s public hearing.
The 2 percent property tax cut was approved early last month despite protests from other elected officials including Republican Auditor Greg Kimsey, Democratic Treasurer Doug Lasher and Republican Assessor Peter Van Nortwick. Budget staff estimate the cut, if upheld, would force the county to dip into its reserve funds, bringing them below the $23 million required by county policy.
Mielke asked his fellow councilors how many more items they plan to revisit in the coming weeks.
“We already had a discussion, and we already took a vote,” Mielke said.
The county council will meet again at 1:30 p.m. today for its weekly board time session in the sixth-floor hearing room of the Public Service Center.