Sheriff charges BOC with violation of Open Meeting Law

As charges continue to fly, the 2.5-percent merit pay issue continues to divide county officials.

Lyon County Sheriff Allan Veil said he has filed an Open Meeting Law complaint with the State Attorney General’s office charging the Lyon County Commission Chair did not offer an opportunity for public input prior to the commission’s vote on September 6, 2012 to deny the claim filed against the County asking for a 2.5 percent merit pay increase for certain non-Association employees in fiscal year 2013.

In a September 12, 2012 letter directed to County Manager Jeff Page (and copied to a Reno newspaper), Veil noted, “I was prepared to present information and discussion on this agenda item, as were other people in the audience. We were denied this opportunity by the Commission Chairman, as any call for public comment was either non-existent, inaudible and/or was otherwise disguised and violated both the spirit and the intent of the law which is to provide reasonable opportunity for public input.”

Veil cites the NRS sections pertaining to the Open Meeting Law, quoting, “The action of any public body taken in violation of any provision of this chapter is void”.  Veil thus demanded “that all actions taken by the County Commissioners on September 6, 2012 in regards to this issue be declared void, as per statute demanded.”

NewsDesk has as a copy of the tape of the September 6 discussion and finds argument with Sheriff Veil on the issue.

Per the September 6 tape, Commissioner Ray Fierro made a motion to deny the claim filed against the County in regards to the merit pay issue.  Commissioner Virgil Arellano seconded the motion and in discussion asked Fierro if he would be willing to make a change in his motion from “As it is my desire to get this matter resolved and hopefully move forward….” to “I hope it is the desire and consensus of the board to get this matter resolved quickly and move forward…”  Fierro agreed.

Commission Chair Chuck Roberts than clearly asks the board, “Is there is any further discussion?” (There was none); and, then clearly asks, “Is there any input from the public?” (There was none)  Following a pause, the vote was then called for and was approved 3-1 (Keller opposed, Mortensen absent)

The motion in its entirety:

“As I hope it is the desire and consensus of the board to get this matter resolved quickly and openly move forward, I move, without waiving any right of the board or county to object to the validity of the demand made on the Comptroller in a legal action that has been filed in District Court, to uphold the Comptrollers refusal to deny the demand made by the District Attorney for merit pay for various employee claimants with the office of the District Attorney, Sheriff, Dayton Justice Court and Walker River Justice Court.”

Lyon County District Attorney Robert Auer, Assistant District Attorney Krueger, Sheriff Allen Veil and non-union appointive persons within their jurisdictions on August 9, 2012 filed a complaint against Comptroller Josh Foli, County Manager Jeff Page and the five member BOC – charging the July 19, 2012 vote by the BOD to freeze a 2.5-percent merit increase for those employees not included in the Lyon County Sheriff’s Employees Association was contrary to state and county policies. The basis of their complaint is the BOC included funding for the merit increases within the 2012-13 fiscal year final budget as submitted to the State Department of Taxation.

The complaint in its entirety: